School Garden Report from Upstate New York

Group photo in school garden

This spring, with a donation of plants from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County, and a variety of seeds donated by Page Seed Company of Greene, NY, students planted tomatoes, green peppers, basil, parsley, onions, sweet potatoes, nasturtium, string beans, strawberries, herbs, and perennial flowers.

“I can’t wait to eat the strawberries,” exclaims Asma Butt, who participated in the group since its beginning last year.

The student group Girls on the Run has also contributed to creating and maintaining vibrant gardens on the Sidney Elementary campus. In May, Girls on the Run members worked to clean up the front flower gardens and plant new flowers in areas that were overrun with grass and weeds. The front gardens were further expanded in June with a donation of perennial flowers from the Hill and Valley Garden club of Sidney.

school garden students saving bean seeds

The food-to-school movement, which seeks to bring more locally grown, fresh food into schools, is gaining popularity with students nationwide. Not only does it address a need for healthier food and eating habits, but it can also connect those needs with an exposure to science education at its most fundamental level.

With a growing interest in growing their own food and working with plants, Green Thumb members are already looking toward next year. Mackenzie Dutton, a 3rd grader and avid gardener, wants to expand the gardening opportunities at the elementary school. “I’d like to do more field trips, more nature walks, and grow more food,” Dutton remarks.

Josh Gray, teacher and garden coordinator, adds, “Our future plans include expanding the gardens, putting in some dwarf fruit trees, berry bushes, creating a Native American food garden, a medicinal garden, and a butterfly garden. We’d also like to increase our cafeteria composting program, work with classroom teachers to integrate nutrition and horticultural education into the school-day, and eventually start providing students with fresh, very local, student-grown food. And then maybe get some chickens…”

More pictures and information about the Green Thumb Growers Guild are available at http://www.sidneycsd.org/GreenThumb.aspx

students in the greenhouse

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