School Gardens

Late summer we started digging on a patch of lawn at Scott Montgomery Elementary School, around the corner from our house, to plant a pumpkin patch. The experience was exciting, back breaking and humbling.

First of all our efforts did not result in pumpkins unless you count tiny green fruit smaller than the size of a golf ball to be a pumpkin. Our meager results can be attributed to many factors but most of all the fact that we planted them too late in the season and they did not have a chance to mature.

On the positive side we spent quite a few Friday mornings with a group of pre-schoolers in the garden weeding, watering, feeding the plants coffee grinds from a local coffee shop and digging for worms. It was amazing to see that kids that were initially tentative about getting near the dirt after just a visit or two were talking about soil, why plants needed water and that it is possible to grow food in the city.

Maybe the best part of the whole experience was that when we spent time in the garden with the kids we always brought local fresh fruit which all of the kids enthusiastically ate. Confirming something that we all know, if there is access to delicious, healthful, consciously grown food kids want to eat it.

The amazing librarian at the school, Frances, has applied for grants to get a raised bed for each class in the school, we have drawings to transform the front yard into an edible garden and outdoor classroom and plans to build a community compost. Late this fall we were saddened to find that there is a possibility that Scott Montgomery Elementary School may close by next year. For the moment the plans are on hold until we find out the status of the school.

Last week a friend emailed me a link to a post from a New York Times blog that I had missed that was posted around Thanksgiving about food, schools, edible gardens...
I loved the post and was anxious to share it with anyone who had missed it like I had. Martin-Lane, our daughter immediately recognized, the author who happens to be one of her favorites, Maira Kalman. I also sent the link to the librarian at Scott Montgomery who printed it out and shared it with the kids we spent time in the garden with this past fall.