KSE plants seeds for future | PostIndependent.com

KSE plants seeds for future

Theresa Hamilton
Garfield Re-2 Director of Communication

Kindergartener "master gardener" Kade Miller standing in front of the small garden shed at the KSE garden.

Kade Miller loves to garden.

"It's fun and I like to watch the plants grow," enthused the Kathryn Senor Elementary kindergartner.

Kade, just 5 years old, has been deemed the "master gardener" on the KSE's new Wellness Team. He has been instrumental in helping develop the school's new garden.

"I've watched my teacher and my grandma garden and I thought that one day I could garden, too, and now I am," said Kade in the wholesome, matter-of-fact way, that only a 5-year-old can.

Beginning with a $3,300 grant from Garfield Healthy Communities Coalition (formerly LiveWell Garfield County), KSE Principal Jana Price and third grade teacher Dana Way saw a school garden as a great opportunity for experiential learning throughout the school.

"This is a chance to teach skills that all of our students will be able to use in the future. Skills that they can take home and use with their families in their own gardens, or families can come to the school garden and work over the summer," said Price.

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The project expands on the project that third graders complete in Mrs. Way's class. Students grow lima beans in plastic bags so that they can watch the root system develop. The school garden will allow all grade levels to learn more about agriculture and how plants grow and develop.

With some help from the River Center and the Kathryn Senor Elementary Parent Teacher Association, they now have several planter boxes, a small shed and are amassing a variety of seeds and tools for spring planting. They will also begin composting food waste from the school lunch program to add an organic component to the garden's soil.

"We're going to be planting a lot of seeds and bring in soil and worms into the garden," explained Kade. "Once we put the seeds in the ground, we have to be sure to water them, straight away."

Kathryn Senor Elementary's Wellness Team includes about 10 teachers and community leaders and Kade.

"He brings wisdom beyond his years," said Price. "Gardening is his passion and that is what he wants to do."

Although gardening will be a major focus for the Wellness Team initially, Kade says that there are other ways he and the rest of the team can help the school be healthy.

"We need to eat our vegetables, get exercise, and no sugar," said Kade.

Eating vegetables should be the easy part. Kathryn Senor Elementary classes, with some guidance from the Carbondale-based Fat City Farmers, will kick off their school garden with a "First Peas to the Table" contest.

The nationwide contest is to celebrate the book "First Peas to the Table" by Susan Grigsby and published by Albert Whitman. Classrooms begin planting no more than 20 pea seeds no earlier than Feb. 20 and compete to see how many shelled peas can be harvested prior to May 15.

Additionally, each classroom has its own vegetable assignment in the new school garden. Kindergarten will be planting a pizza garden including tomatoes, onions and basil. First grade will tackle carrots and lettuce. Second grade will grow herbs. Third grade will plant beets and cucumbers, and fourth graders will plant the three sisters — beans, squash and corn.

The Wellness Team already has a plan to take care of the garden over the summer, and the school is looking forward to eating the harvest in the school cafeteria this fall.

"The most exciting part of having a school garden is eating it," said Kade.