By Amy Bounds Camera Staff Writer
Posted: 04/06/2011 08:23:21 PM MDT
Students at elementary schools throughout the Boulder Valley School District got their hands dirty this week, planting lettuce in their community gardens in anticipation of a "salad feast" in May.
Bryce Brown, who started the Growe Foundation, helps schools start and maintain gardens. The foundation also provides garden-related lesson plans for teachers and coordinates guest speakers.
"Each garden is an outdoor classroom for experiential learning," Brown said.
On Wednesday, Brown and parent volunteers helped students at Boulder's Creekside and High Peaks elementary schools plant rows of tiny red and green lettuces grown by Boulder's Cure Organic Farm.
At Creekside, the first-graders learned about the life cycle of the plant before digging into the wet dirt to make holes for their lettuces, using rulers to make sure the plants were spaced far enough apart.
Once the lettuces reach full size, the students will harvest them, wash the leaves and make salad dressing.
"I love it," said fifth-grader Eliza Yager. "It's really great that at the end of the year we can have an all-school salad."
As the weather warms up, students will plant vegetables that will grow over the summer, including squash and tomatoes, and be ready to harvest in the fall. Parent volunteers maintain the gardens over the summer months.
"We're going to be planting a lot," said third-grader Risa Jones. "It's really fun to get to harvest the plants."
Creekside was the first Boulder Valley school to participate in the program, planting a garden in the spring of 2006. The goal is to teach students where food comes from and encourage healthy habits.
"It's really promoting to the kids how their food choices affect the health of their bodies and their planet," Brown said.
Along with parent volunteers and lead teacher Mary Skinner, Creekside's program also includes a garden council of 20 students.
The students said their garden, located in the school's courtyard, has improved over the years. Now, it's a large plot divided by stepping stones, with sections assigned to each grade level. Along with helping with the garden, the garden council writes journal entries and takes pictures to keep a garden website updated with the latest progress.
"I like that everybody gets to pitch in and help," said Creekside fifth-grader Lily Copeland, who's on the garden council.
At Fireside Elementary in Louisville, parent Callie Palen-Lowrie is a regular volunteer for the 3-year-old garden program.
She said the students have been more willing to try new vegetables after growing them, while the garden itself also ties in well to a unit on pioneer days.
"We work with the kids and dig in the dirt and teach them where food comes from," she said. "We often harvest the food and cook with the kids. The excitement from the kids is really why I do it."
Read more: Boulder Valley's outdoor classrooms: Students plant, harvest gardens
Boulder Daily Camera