Healthy Learning Gardens Take Root
Thanks to a partnership with local non-profit, Healthy Floyd, close to 200 students, teachers, and parents are gardening at Floyd Elementary School this year. Even Floyd County High School students are happy to help dig. As part of the group’s Healthy Learning Gardens initiative, preschool, kindergarten, 1st, 2nd and 4th grade classes now have their own garden boxes to prepare, plant, tend, and harvest throughout the school year.
The group’s first task was to get the existing boxes ready for planting. With the help of parent volunteers and Joe Tesauro’s high school Ag. class, the eight raised-bed boxes were repaired, and the soil turned. Alice Hardin’s kindergarten students then helped the high schoolers to weed out the kindergarten and preschool boxes, and all three first grade classes were eager to get their hands dirty with theirs. One class pulled weeds and prepped the soil, another group added fresh compost, and a third group planted the seeds. Said the weed pullers, “It was hard work, but really cool.”
First grade teacher Becky Thompson describes the project as a real-world way for students to “learn about the plant life cycle, parts of the plant, how to keep plants healthy, and the importance of plants to our world,” all a part of the first-grade SOLs. “As teachers,” continues Thompson, “we are just really grateful for the community support in helping to provide hands-on learning for our kids!”
Mona Helms and Heather Vickers agree. “We were thrilled when this project was presented to us, because it provides an opportunity to do a cross curricular, cross grade level activity with our 2nd and 4th grade classes. It allows us to incorporate math, science and language arts skills in a hands-on, highly engaging activity.”
Besides planning and measuring out their plots, Helms and Vickers’ students are working on informational posters detailing the plant life cycle. And the two teachers are already looking towards the fall. Says Helms, “I’m excited about doing this again next year. If we start earlier, we’ll be able to harvest our plants and enjoy them. We’ll also have more time to develop the finished written project. The kids will be able to chart the growth of the plants, keep a plant diary, and create a photo timeline from start to finish.”
Sounds like Floyd Elementary students are in it for the long haul, and Principal Chris Hewitt couldn’t be more pleased. The school’s general fund provided the compost, potting soil, and seeds requested by the teachers. “We are excited that so many students are able to have a hands-on learning experience through this partnership with Healthy Floyd,” says Hewitt, “and we are thankful to all those involved who are helping to make the project possible.”
Healthy Floyd also supports Learning Gardens at Willis Elementary School and Jessie Peterman Memorial Library.