School is in full swing again at Shamrock Gardens Elementary. Over the last few months, the children and staff have been taking home eggplant, tomatoes, beans, peppers and basil from the garden. We are now growing broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes and peas in our garden space and will be planting some kale soon. Questions are coming in to the garden mailbox, and Amy has been busy writing answers back to the kids.
For those of you wondering what a garden mailbox is, it is a regular mailbox that we installed on a post in the garden. Students write letters to the gardener, asking questions about bugs, plants, dirt or anything else in the garden that they are wondering about. They include their name and classroom, put the flag of the mailbox up, and within a week or two, they have a response delivered to their classroom.
We have worked with a couple of classes so far this year. The 5th graders helped with the broccoli planting and learned about transpiration, fourth graders examined the root systems and structure of the tomato plants, and the kindergarten class came out to the garden to study bugs.
We will be involved in class dinners again this school year, and Cary is looking into new ways to bring good, clean, and fair food to the kids in the classroom. Amy has some big plans for the expansion of the garden area and a nice layout for the winter garden. We plan improve the “outdoor classroom” area of our current garden, and will continue to provide support to and work with the teachers in the classroom.
The garden program is now part of daily life at Shamrock. Every time we are at the school, teachers walk by and comment on how much they enjoy having the garden there, and students are constantly asking questions and wanting to sample the produce!
We just received a micro grant of $1000 through the Mecklenburg County Health Department, and interest from the kids and Shamrock staff is at an all time high.
The thing we would like more of, and what will ensure the long term success of this program, is support from YOU. Whether you can give one hour a week or one hour a school year, we can use you. If you can help spread compost one Saturday in November, we need you. If you can come into a classroom and tell a story in March, we need you. If you can help with a cooking demonstration on a Tuesday afternoon, we need you. If you can help answer garden questions, we need you. If you care about kids being exposed to gardening or nutritious food, we need you. If you can come every week and inspect the plants for bugs, we really need you.
We have volunteer forms for you to fill out, and are hoping to have volunteer orientations at Shamrock on a rotating basis throughout the year. Please email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a form and get you started.
Happy Gardening and Eating!