Letters to the Editor

Low priority

September 13, 2011


To the editor:

The Sept. 6 Journal-World article titled “Growing interest” leaves readers questioning the priorities of City Hall and the school district. Both are establishing “community gardens” because, as Bob Schumm says, it is absolutely wonderful we are showing kids what they can grow and how to take care of things. What?

Our school board proclaims budgetary problems that have led to staff reductions and school consolidation to save money, yet they want to hire a “community garden liaison” by October to oversee the community garden? Where are their priorities? None of our schools are at 100 percent levels on their student achievement testing. Some subgroups are significantly below standard. Wouldn’t a better priority be to expend valuable resources to improve student achievement in reading, math, science and history versus teaching them gardening?

The city of Lawrence has many critical economic issues regarding unemployment, sales tax shrinkage, empty storefronts and economic development. Community gardens do not rank among our critical priorities. Yet the city is wasting time planning how a community garden program might work? People are hurting. How about planning to significantly reduce unemployment in Lawrence and improve our overall economic climate?

Lawrence does not have a cohesive long-term economic plan for its future growth, industry mix, tax base mix, future financing requirements, etc. Such a plan would provide discipline in their decision-making and personal priorities. Currently any idea whispered in a commissioner’s ears distracts from critical priorities.

City Hall and the school district need to refocus their priorities.


lawrenceguy40 6 years, 8 months ago

barry o is destroying our economy. Obviously the school board have recognized this and realize that one of the most important skills the kids can learn is the ability to feed themselves. What use is a knowledge of maths or history if you are going to be a subsidence farmer? That is where we are heading with this idiot in power.

David, ever thought of home schooling your kids and stop being a bum and having your neighbors pay for their education?


ivalueamerica 6 years, 8 months ago

Bush destroyed the economy, and now the new congress is fighting tooth and nail to keep jobs out of the hands of Americans who want them while continually cutting taxes to the rich.

ivalueamerica 6 years, 8 months ago

well, if they were actually creating jobs instead of outsourcing them, cutting them and otherwise moving them abroad, you might have a point, however, the facts make you just continue to appear nutty.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

Jeez, Reynolds, this isn't an either/or situation. Gardening is a very useful, and even essential, skill, and teaches kids a good deal about self-sufficiency. But maybe that's what you don't like about it.

Marilyn Hull 6 years, 8 months ago

Mr. Reynolds:

The Free State garden is funded through a grant from LiveWell Lawence, a community nutrition and physical activity initiative. Funding for the initiative came from the Kansas Health Foundation, a provate charity which receives no tax dollars.

The garden is a learning lab for students in the agriculture track of the district's career and technical education curriculum. While learning growing skills that will help them earn a living, they are providing fresh produce to the Free State cafeteria.

The community garden will be largely run by students to give them hands-on project management experience. The community garden coordinator, who will be very part time, will primarily work on fundraising and community partnerships to make the program self-sustaining.

chootspa 6 years, 8 months ago

Learning should never be fun, and there's no way a garden could be educational. For instance, I expect them not to learn about things like the water cycle, photosynthesis, graphs and grids, temperature measurements, the life cycle of butterflies, nutrition, etc. There's also no math lessons in things like counting seeds for planting or calculating yields, no patterns, no gardening literature, no historical references to early farming techniques. Nope. No learning to be had in a garden at all.

David Reynolds 6 years, 8 months ago

Marilyn, in reading Mr. Reynolds comments he is discussing what is most important. Basic education of reading, writing & arithmetic are more important than gardening. If the community wishes to promote learning skills for students on the agricultural track then the students should be encouraged to join organizations like the FFA which have the necessary organization and skills. This is Kansas, there are many ways for students to learning gardening skills if they wish.

By the way how many of our teachers have degrees in gardening or horticulture or other skills that qualify them to teach gardening.

Gardening is not a primary skill children should be learning in our schools to prepare them for the jobs of the 21st century. This program is a gross miss use of time, talent and extremely scarce resources.

Our children are not even superior in their achievement tests. According to some reports our schools have not made much progress in some areas for the last several years.

Marilyn, lets focus on the fundamentals before we dilute our curriculum with non-critical classes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

And I bet you're opposed to walking and chewing gum at the same time, too.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 8 months ago

Insulting hyperbole from bozo. That's original, particularly from one who constantly demands sourcing and point-by-point refutation of Merrill's spam.

chootspa 6 years, 8 months ago

No, please don't give us this free money so our kids can be self sufficient when they get out of school. Some students somewhere have bad scores on tests!

tomatogrower 6 years, 8 months ago

Well, I don't have a degree in gardening or horticulture, but I grow wonderful tomatoes and other veggies, and could teach anyone to do it. Degrees aren't everything. And why can't they learn the fundamentals and learn to grow their own food? Are you saying they are too dumb to do both?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 8 months ago

Wrong again David Reynolds.

Gardening is all about science aka hand's on science.

  1. Plant ID
  2. Keeping healthy soils without toxic chemicals = cancer prevention
  3. Nutritional Benefits
  4. Sun and water specifications
  5. Composting is science
  6. Mulching with compost conserves moisture = responsible water conservation = dollars saved.
  7. Fiscal Responsibility = How to fix healthy meals = better health = lower medical care expenses

Obviously there is depth in the well of gardening......

David Reynolds 6 years, 8 months ago

Merrill please tell me this is not your justification for including gardening in our school curriculum. There is nothing in your offering that would not & should not be taught in basic science classes.

To Mr. Reynolds point, there is no justification for wasting valuable resources.

Terry Sexton 6 years, 8 months ago

What a marvelously pro-active idea! As explained by Marilyn, it would seem negligent not to do this.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 8 months ago

Mr Reynolds and his home building prevent horticultural technology whereas horticultural technology can be converted into money making skills known as landscape and/or vegetable garden management.

These young people can one day hire themselves out to plant and manage food production in urban yards and acreage throughout this fine community. Young minds are eager learners. A decent living wage can be had as most people who want this service realize it is hard work and will appreciate the assistance.

Central Warehouse/Price Chopper is expanding their storage areas because local products are replacing what once came from primarily the west coast. Local products need to expand with demand. " Expand with Demand" = what a great slogan representing the new demand for local products.

David Reynolds 6 years, 8 months ago

Merrill you still have not justified your position. Experience tells us that having a sound education in fundamental skills leads to success not only in the classroom but in life itself.

By the way, please tell us what a "Vegetable Garden Manager" earns. Is that a "living wage job"? Does that job even exist? Also how many "Vegetable Garden Manager" jobs are now, and will be required in the future? All the Landscaping owners I know have solid educations and none of them had gardening as a regular class in high school. Landscaping is a skill learned through continuous education throughout ones career.

Local produce sold by farmers and individuals is wonderful, but has no place in our schools.

By the way Merrill, if home building is such a detriment to horticulture, and you are a person of your convictions, you should immediately leave your residence and possibly pitch a tent. Just say'n...

Richard Heckler 6 years, 8 months ago

Gardening/Landscape Mgm't comes in a variety of college degrees. There is no reason not to advance such studies in the public school system.

Natural pest control management skills,maintaining margins, design, plant propagation,fundamentals of soil science and operations are all valuable skills that which can produce income and tax revenue.

Public school introduction would prepare students for either a two or four year degree in this broad field of study. Some may well become PHD's.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 8 months ago

In which program did you get your degree?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 8 months ago

No one here has justified any reason not to teach horticulture technology in public schools at any age.

We do know that some landscaping operations bill clients $35 per hour per body or more.

Managing a food garden is no different than managing a bed of flowering shrubs,annuals or perennials. Let's not kid ourselves. The only difference is plants. Food gardens make beautiful and useful gardens. For a great viewing check out the Merc in it's first season which is looking grand.

Another useful skill in the garden is blending conventional bedding plants with medicinals/ herbs,fruits and vegetables.

David Reynolds 6 years, 8 months ago

Merrill this is my last reply to you. My grandchildren get $35 and more per lawn just cutting grass to earn money to go to school. Your arguments are meaningless.

Mr. Reynolds original question is about priorities and the use/misuse of valuable resources.

The question is about expectations of achievement of our students in school. About our schools using scarce resources so our students achieve excellence in their studies, and about our schools making significant progress in their student achievement testing.

it is about our students being prepared for the future to be high income earners in what ever field. To use scarce resources responsibly Lawrence Public Schools must concentrate on the fundamentals of reading, writing, math, science, history. Gardening does not rise to that standard.

gl0ck0wn3r 6 years, 8 months ago

lulz, old man. You've been standing behind a mower too long and inhaling the toxic fumes.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 8 months ago

2 cycle lawn care machines are killing the planet. Only a GINO would rave about everybody using golf carts and then turn around and kill the planet with 2 cycle engines.

David Reynolds 6 years, 8 months ago

Mr. Reynolds point was reinforced by this mornings article in the Journal World titled: Local Economy grew at exceptionally slow rate in 2010, according to one recent analysis". The article says our local GDP is growing at a rate of .1% a year. The article takes solace that our GDP is growing at a rate of about 1% a year. This is still sub-standard as it does not even keep up with inflation. The news this morning said inflation rose at .24% this past month, which is over 2% a year. Lawrence's economy has at or below inflation rates for the past 15 years.

When will the city get aggressive about growing lawrence's economy and diversifying our research, business, retail & industrial mix?

Our growing regulations from city & the county inhibit companies due to their increasing regulatory costs.

jayhawxrok 6 years, 8 months ago

I've always had a garden and I always worked in the gardens of my grandparents and parents and we've always enjoyed fresh veggies and the experience of being self sufficient for these things. That "thing" they sell in grocery stores and call a tomato is not really a tomato. Community gardens are great and really easy on the wallet. For every $10 spent on seeds or seedlings you easily get $100 worth of quality produce.

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