Growing with Vegetables at Lewis El
The 2018-2019 has been a great success, students have made connections with each other, their teachers, and the planet. They learned about the incredible transformation of tiny seed into edible food, and acquired tastes for vegetables that they had never tried before.
Teachers and volunteers worked together to expand the garden at the beginning of the year. We now have 5 beautiful twenty-foot long beds made of red cement blocks. We have one large circular pollinator garden - students have observed dozens of baby monarch caterpillars feasting on milkweed! Our four wooden beds from last year are overflowing with edible and medicinal herbs, with one bed dedicated to strawberries and blueberries.
Every week, students care for the garden. They independently supervise each other through the cycle of sowing seeds, tenderly caring for them as they grow, harvesting the food, and recycling plant waste through compost.
This will be my final year at Lewis Elementary - I'm moving to Fort Worth in June! Please help us support the sustainability of the garden under the supervision of my wonderful colleagues. A final fundraising push can provide them with seeds and fertilizer for the upcoming year!!
Thank you all for your wonderful support.
2017 -2018 Original Story and Proposal:
Like all young learners, the students I serve in southeast Houston crave memorable experiences and authentic relationships. I teach writing to three groups of fourth graders, each of whom is beautifully unique and avidly searching for his or her life's calling. Some of my students are passionate about the arts - dance, drawing, singing, or creative writing. Others dream of becoming professional athletes. Still others know they are excellent mathematicians and will one day build the world's tallest buildings. In order to build on that sense of identity, we write responses to prompts like, "What is your favorite hobby, and why?" Invariably, after thinking for a while, a few students will timidly approach me and admit that they don't think they have any hobbies. When I ask them what they do after school, they might reply by saying they watch some tv or play video games, eat, and go to bed. My dream is to offer that student an experience that will ignite a lifelong passion for a positive, productive activity.
This year, I seek to provide an opportunity for students to explore new pathways by building an organic vegetable garden. The project will begin as an after school club offered to students from grades 3-5, and will hopefully grow to allow teachers of any subject to plan lessons around the many opportunities that a garden offers.
In the garden club, students and I will work together to construct raised beds. We will compare prices from venders to draw up a budget and purchase the supplies needed. We will research the best foods to grow for the time of year and decide what to plant based on students' interests. During the growing season, we will water, weed, and fertilize. We will learn to recycle organic food waste as compost. We will make observations and respond to the plants' needs appropriately. As our vegetables are growing, students will begin researching recipes which feature our growing plants. They will be encouraged to bring recipes from their families' cultures, or explore unfamiliar cultures. They will prepare a small presentation on the culture of their choosing. Come harvest time, students will cook their recipes and share their cultural presentation with the rest of the group. Any food surplusses will be sold at an inexpensive farmer's stand at the end of the school day, and profits will go back to funding the garden (dollar amounts calculated by students, of course!). The goal is for students to take ownership of the garden, while learning about food production and consumption around the world.
Our school is beginning to implement a Restorative Discipline system which will provide an after school program for students who used to be given detention, but now will be coached on how to right the harm that has been done to the community. Part of that process will be community service, and our garden will offer an outlet for hands-on restorative work to students from outside of the club each week.
The money being raised for this project will go primarily toward the one-time costs of building the garden. This includes wood planks and construction tools, soil and compost, and gardening tools like trowels, gloves, and a hose. The rest of the money will go toward seeds for each of the planting seasons throughout the year, as well as cooking ingredients that students might need for their recipes. The more money we raise and the more support we have from the community, the more beds we can construct and the more lives we can impact!
To make this happen, I am asking you for small donations. Just $2 can buy a packet of carrot seeds which will one day turn into a meal of roasted carrots with carrot top pesto for a hungry young gardener and chef. Any amount you can give will make an impact on our students, and consequently on the future of our planet. We are deeply grateful for your support and continued awareness.