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Elementary students learn about crops

May 30, 2012

They’re probably not going to be farmers, but they’ll learn in school what is involved in growing a crop. In this instance, the school is the Stourbridge Primary Center and the crop is lettuce.

Every second grader in the school visited the school garden every week, learned about lettuce and how to plant it, water it, measure the amount of rainfall that fell, nurture it, watch it grow from week to week while at the same time learning the math, reading, science and history related to growing things.

“This is an interdisciplinary program where students use math to measure the rainfall and measure how long their plant leaves are, learn science in what a plant is, develop reading skills in the stories about farming and growing, learn history about the way farming developed and the history of lettuce,” said Paula Brennan, the principal. “But mostly, it’s about the joys of growing plants and working in the garden.”

Terry Ritter, the Title One reading teacher, helped the students with reading and science activities that were related to growing lettuce.

As the end of the school year approaches, the students went into the garden and harvested the lettuce, washed it and ate it for lunch. There was enough to feed all the students.

John Jose, of Otter Creek Environmental Educational Service, developed the program. Members of the school PTA, members of Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture and members of Transition Honesdale, a local group that encourages sustainable living, aided Jose.

“We had help from a group of employees of Home Depot in Honesdale who donated their time preparing the raised beds and providing some of the garden equipment,” Jose said. “The wood that frames the beds was sawed by the middle school students in their wood shop class.”

“It’s a wonderful way to teach the children the growing process, to learn about it in the classroom and then come out in the real garden and actually do it,” said Kim Modrovsky, a member of the PTA board.

“It’s great to see kids eat healthily by growing their own product and encourage buying produce locally,” said Richelle Stevens of Stevens Pharmacy, whose son was in the program last year.

“We want to develop a garden in every school in the district,” said Bill Templeton, an organizer for the local chapter of Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA). “We started a garden in the high school today.”