Holden Students, Volunteers Expand Garden
About two dozen students, teachers, parents and community members built more garden space Saturday to enhance learning.
Students from Holden Elementary School can get salsa and responsibility skills from the same source — the ground.
It's been like that for about three years, and with the help of about two dozen volunteers the opportunities for cauliflower, onions and botany lessons have expanded.
A group of students, parents, teachers and others from the community gathered Saturday morning for a Garden Building Day to expand the Holden Garden enough so that each grade has a space of their own. The group isn't an actual garden club, but it consists of parents and administrators who want to keep building on what they believe is a creative and healthy method of learning.
"I think it brings them closer to know where food is coming from instead of just thinking that it comes from boxes in the supermarket," said Mariana Romero, a parent who volunteered with her daughter, fifth-grader Naidi Valverde-Romero. "I think they'll value it more."
The volunteers spent three hours digging up sod, laying down soil, sprinkling wood chips and more. The Kent Environmental Council and Garden Club of Kent also lent helping hands.
The garden project began three seasons ago with a few beds that everybody shared as a place to care for plants and munch on tomatoes, volunteer coordinator Lynn Gregor said. Now, each grade will have their own garden in hopes that it further incorporates them into their curriculums. Teachers have already assigned themes to their gardens. For example, third-grade teacher Susan Louis and her students will maintain a Kent history garden.
"We're really interested to find out what the Native Americans and early settlers brought with them to plant and start the community," Louis said. "The fourth grade is focusing on the Native American garden, a three-sister (corn, beans and squash) garden. It's neat that the third-graders will go from the research they did to figure out what we're going to plant and then onto fourth grade to see the connection through the garden."
The students will waste no time in making use of the fresh beds. Teachers will take them out this week to place plants that have been growing under lights in classrooms.
While some kids opined that getting dirty hands was the best part of the project, Naidi said she appreciated the plants' beauty. Louis said she also appreciated the nutritional value it provides her students.
"It's neat that it evolved from one little patch to this," Louis said. "We grew these sungold tomatoes, and they were so delicious that students would grab one and say, 'this is better than a donut!'
"That's great for the kids," she said.