By Anne Forline
Gloucester City News
The students at the Extended Day Program at Cold Springs School gratefully received four gardens that were recently installed in the school’s courtyard.
Moving Hay – Hard working horticulturists at Cold Springs School, from left: Jessica Sandobal, Mikayla Renzi and Cheryl McManus, carry alfalfa hay that will be used to much the gardens at the school. ~photo by Anne Forline
As part of Subaru’s Green Garden’s Initiative, the Garden State Discovery Museum hosted a seminar for teachers to learn about the importance of organic local foods, the usage of flora for fauna and the transformation of a schoolyard into a living classroom.
Teachers also learned about the annual migration of the monarch butterfly.
To share this knowledge with the students, two butterfly gardens and two edible gardens were set up by the staff of the Garden State Discovery Museum.
Other businesses, including Home Depot, Renee’s Garden, and Whole Foods, donated additional supplies, such as vegetable and fruit plants, gardening tools, soil, seeds and soil testing kits.
Megan Wall is the floor manager of the museum and helped construct the gardens at the school. She is passionate about gardening and is eager to share her knowledge with children.
“I decided to get involved with the Subaru Green Garden Initiative because gardening with kids is very close to my heart. I used to work in a garden with children at a low-income school in Los Angeles,” Megan said.
“One of the most rewarding things was watching the children light up every time they entered the garden to check on the food and plants that were growing,” she said.
The Subaru Initiative teaches children that fresh food starts as a seed that is sown in the ground.
It also teaches them that through continual care and a little bit of hard work, they have the ability to grow and harvest a bounty of food to share with their friends and family.
Our project allows kids to be involved in every step of the growing process, and allows them to take ownership over the garden.
During the Extended Day program, the students have indeed taken ownership of the garden.
They busy themselves with basic horticultural duties, such as watering, weeding and planting seeds in peat pots.
They have especially enjoyed monitoring and comparing the daily growth of the plants, which include butterfly bushes, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, egg plants, fennel, oregano and basil.
Second grade students Cheryl McManus and Tai Vu are excited about working in their new garden, and look forward to checking all of the plants’ growth each day.
Cheryl said, “I like to work in the garden because it’s fun. I like to dig in the dirt, put the plants in and water them.”
Tai agrees, adding, “We are learning new things and facts about gardening. My favorite part was when we saw 11 potatoes come from a real live potato plant!”
Although the students enjoyed planting a vast variety of seeds, they estimated that many of their young seedlings will not fit in the gardens.
Meghan O’Connor, Director of the Extended Day Program, said, “It was a great learning experience for the students to plant lots of seeds.
“They got great hands-on experience watching the seeds sprout and grow, but we have so many plants now. We told the students about the Gloucester City Community Gardens and they are more than happy to share their extras with them,” she said.
The students also know that by mid-Summer, there will be an overabundance of produce. When that time comes, the students plan to donate the bounty to local food pantries, O’Connor said.
Creating a garden – Mikayla Renzi watches Tai Vu watering newly planted seeds. The hard working horticulturalists and students at Cold Springs School are part of a program that is creating two butterfly gardens and two vegetable gardens at the school to teach the students about gardening.