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PHOTOS: Holden Students Learn About the Flowers and the Bees

Garden project at Kent elementary school growing strong roots

I struggle to find the right words to accurately describe the Holden Garden Project.

Expanding? Too much of an understatement.

Growing? Too much of a pun.

Thriving? Maybe. Blossoming? Close.

Or how about "stupendously educational?" Maybe too much over the top.

But you get the picture.

Since its inception a few years ago the garden beds at Holden Elementary School have taken flight. Parent volunteers work with the help of local groups such as the Kent Environmental Council and Garden Club of Kent to to educate students about natural food.

Visually, its success is obvious — especially when comparing of virgin soil with the images above, which were shot Friday.

You can see the success in the headlines, too:

With a new school year, students in grades first through fifth are now transitioning into different areas of the garden.

Holden Principal Julie Troman said each grade cultivates a particular area of the garden project, and because fifth graders leave for Stanton Middle School each spring the incoming grade takes over the area planted by their predecessors.

The garden project features separate gardens, including a salad garden — with lettuce and tomatoes — and a flower and butterfly garden, a salsa garden (where you'll find peppers, corn stalks and the like), the "Three Sisters" garden and a Kent history garden.

The idea, parent volunteer Lynn Gregor said, is to give the students a broad range of plants to experience.

The start of the school year means students are doing maintenance on the gardens now. Some new plantings will go in the ground this fall, and during the winter they'll plan for the spring when more plants will take root to grow over the summer, Troman said.

The project, which has been emulated at other Kent schools, teaches children about gardening and all that's involved with growing their own plants for food. Some of the students seem like experts, identifying plants and knowing how to cultivate them. Others shout with joy at tasting a ripe cherry tomato — one girl's first ever fresh from-the-garden treat.

"We plan on harvesting more this coming school year and having the kids eat fresh from their garden," Gregor said.

And thanks to the Whole Kids Foundation grant both the garden project and the school's outdoor classroom will be expanding further with benches and other materials.

Kudos to all the volunteers who help make this happen. It's a great educational tool with boundless opportunities.

The Omnipotent Sponge - Soak it up! September 09, 2012 at 07:43 PM
This is so grand. We are sadly in a time where too many children, and some parents, don't have a clue where their food comes from. Nor do they appreciate all the work and patience involved in our breakfasts, lunches and dinners. This is also a testament to the fact that kids DO love vegetables. Naturally, veggies just have to be fresh and prepared right or, even better, devoured straight from the garden! Wouldn't it be great to put more gardens, including fruit trees and bushes, around the schools and see how much food the students can grow for their daily lunches?! We all eat, and it's all grown the same way, all over the world. In the soil, showered with sun and rain and the "elements", and harvested for our nourishment. Also, what could better teach self reliance than growing your own food? Seed in the ground, love from above, and sustenance for our lives. Amazing! Go Kent Schools!
Christina September 10, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Hm... I *did* have something similar to this when I was in elementary school: Noble School in Cleveland Heights, circa mid/late-1970s. Only it wasn't anything radical; it was just part of our curriculum. Two blocks from the school, next to an apartment building, there was a small plot of land. We spent more temperate times of the year walking over there about once a week (or at least a few times a month) to observe the different bugs, animals, plants, etc. We didn't plant anything; we just observed what was already there.
Fred Pierre October 18, 2012 at 04:09 AM
That garden is beautiful. I don't think I have seen such giant collard greens. I hope the kids get to eat some of what they grew, The green beans, corn, tomatoes and purple kale all did well this year!

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