After weeks of snow and subzero wind chills, a few warm days are bound to stir up gardening fever — and it’s good to see more local schools catching the bug.
It’s a little cool to start planting even early spring crops, but it’s never too early to start putting together a plan. Spurred on by the success of a student-run garden last summer at West Junior High School, other local schools are planning to add garden plots to their campuses this year.
Students at West, with the assistance of some community helpers, established their garden last spring. They sold herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables from the garden at weekly markets, raising more than $4,000 that will be put back into the garden project. The garden also provided some paid employment for a few West students and contributed 180 pounds of food that was used in the school’s cafeteria this fall.
While West is planning a garden expansion, including some fruit trees, five other schools are getting ready to break ground on new garden projects. Gardens are planned at Free State High School and Central Junior High and at Corpus Christi, Hillcrest and Sunset Hill elementary schools. The projects are being supported by a number of grants and community partners. In fact, community volunteers are being sought to help with spring garden preparations on March 12 and 15 and April 2. People who would like to help can contact Lily Siebert at The Merc, 901 Iowa.
A generation or two ago, helping in the family garden was a common summer chore for many school-age children. The new school garden projects help get youngsters reconnected with the food they eat. They learn what it takes to nurture a crop and hopefully see it to a successful harvest. Only a handful of West students were paid to work in the garden, but consider the pride they shared with classmates who actually saw some of that food on their lunch trays last fall.
The garden gives students an enjoyable way to spend some time outside and offers a variety of lessons in biology, math, marketing, teamwork and other areas. They are lessons that could foster an enjoyable future hobby or even a career for the students.
It’s nice to see local schools and community volunteers supporting students’ desire to try their hand at what many Douglas County residents find to be a satisfying hobby or, in some cases, a significant source of income.