Remember the garden photos we posted from Coconut Grove Elementary? Slow Food Miami installed the school’s first garden and it was meant for the first grade class, but according to PTA parent Kate Carrick, other children and teachers were so enthusiastic that they wanted their own.
According to Kate, a school’s parent bought two additional boxes and supplies and created gardens for the 3rd and 5th grade classes. When the school decided they wanted to have a garden for each class, parents, local businesses and children chipped in. Donations were solicited at school events and everyone from local businesses across the street to parents and children who took $.50 from their piggy banks donated money to install additional gardens.
Now two or three parents from each grade are in charge of their class’s garden. They take care of watering and maintenance, which is currently only happening three times per week this time of year. A fifth grader’s grandmother helps out watering on some mornings. During the recent freeze, one mother came to school in the late afternoon to cover the gardens during the night.
One of the keys is to get parents involved – it only takes a few – and in one case they bought two watering cans per grade to encourage them to water the gardens in the morning with a parent. They have had several harvests of their gardens and served a big salad during the holiday party and spaghetti dinner. Recently, the parents harvested and created a salad and left it in the teacher lounge as a gift.
Teachers are also incorporating the gardens into the curriculum – writing about the growing cycle in preparation for FCATS and even doing math. Recently they installed signs, which were built by one parent and painted by another.
Kate said, “The children have taken such pride in their gardens, especially the older students in the fourth and fifth grades. They are so into it!” She continued, “There is a definite sense of happiness when kids and parents pass by the gardens.”