By Abby Plummer
TRENTON — The spring is finally here and students at Trenton Elementary School are getting ready to start planting in the school’s greenhouse! The materials for the greenhouse were donated to the school in 2005. In order to complete the building of the greenhouse, middle school science teacher Cindy Lambert wrote grants and got more donations for the foundation and groundwork. In 2010, the 15 x 30 greenhouse was built. Cindy’s students designed and built 14 raised beds for the inside and outside of the greenhouse, and students have been planting in the greenhouse ever since! “The project is not that big, but it has certainly made an impact,” says Cindy, also the school’s Garden Coordinator.
The garden and greenhouse project ties in perfectly with middle school science curriculum. In 6th grade Earth Science, the first unit Cindy teaches is on soil. Through explorations with the garden, students conduct soil testing, learn what makes good soil for plants to grow, and learn about soil composition like nitrogen and organic matter. In 8th grade Life Science, Cindy uses different activities to directly connect to the garden, such as in studying plant needs and how things grow. The concepts are expanded “to how things grow naturally, and how to protect our habitats,” says Cindy.
Each fall 6th graders harvest zucchini and excitedly bake bread in science class to serve at the school’s Harvest Lunch in September. Lettuce and cabbage are grown to serve for the school lunch program. Over the summer, students who participate in the summer program help take care of the garden by watering and weeding. They also get to enjoy a healthy snack of fresh peas from the garden! Last year, middle school students made trellises to support the peas.
The greenhouse project does not stop in the middle school. Every spring, kindergarteners plant pumpkins, and in the fall harvest the crops as first graders. “Students are all excited when it’s time to harvest,” observes Cindy. “First graders say, ‘I did that, I planted that!’” Other grades will plant carrots and peas and harvest them in the summer and fall. “Something happens when kids get their hands dirty,” states Cindy. “They’re involved, happy, content. We’re out weeding, and they’re just happy. Conversations happen that wouldn’t normally happen in the classroom. The students are so willing to help.” The Trenton Elementary School Garden is a prime example of what a positive impact a garden can have for a school community.
Each year the students have a flower bulb sale to raise money to buy materials to support the greenhouse project. Because the project isn’t that big, the school doesn’t have a lot of needs. However, hand tools and organic compost would always be welcomed! FMI, please contact Cindy Lambert at [email protected]