School breaks ground on garden
May 06. 2014 2:00PM
A 280-square-foot green space at a Dell Rapids school that’s gone unused since the building’s construction started its new role as learning garden Saturday when dozens of volunteers began transforming the area into what project leaders hope will become a community highlight.
Students at Dell Rapids Elementary returned to school this week to find six 4-by-10 foot raised garden beds and a compost bin where an empty inlet along the south perimeter of the school building had been when they left for weekend break. About two dozen volunteers, including school staff, administrators and board members and other garden enthusiasts worked for two hours Saturday morning constructing the garden beds, the second step in the project aimed at enhancing student learning through gardening.
“We have a greenhouse in the school, and we have some tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and cabbage, so we’ll bring that out and transplant it,” said Lori Morris, kindergarten teacher and project leader for the learning garden. “The kids were so excited when they saw the greenhouse go up and watched the plants grow, and I think they’ll have even more buy-in and ownership of it when our dirt arrives.”
Although adults up to this point have done much of the labor needed to prep the garden, students will take over this week when they fill the beds with soil. While school is in, each grade level at the elementary school and the pre-school program will be assigned a bed to tend and maintain. During summer months, the school will rely on community volunteers to keep up with the garden’s needs.
“All throughout the summer we’re gong to have volunteers come in on a weekly basis to water and maintain. And as the produce readies, they can pick it and distribute it if they’d like,” Morris said. “We just invite people to come who want fresh stuff. It’s there for the taking.”
Morris said potatoes, peppers, beans, squash, broccoli and tomatoes are planned for the spring and summer garden season, and in the fall spinach and lettuce will be grown.
Jay Nelson, elementary school principal, said building the beds is just one step in a long list of ambitions for the project. Eventually, he said, the garden’s appeal will grow with a walking path, benches and even a small shade tree.
All along the way, project leaders will turn to local businesses for assistance with donations, whether monetary or material. L.G. Everist donated the soil that was delivered to the school this week. Dell Rapids Lumber gifted the material for the garden beds, and a $1,000 grant from Modern Woodmen of America and $786 in donations from civic groups like ESA, Move Forward and the Lions Club have been raised.
Besides the garden’s benefits of learning about biology, math, teamwork and work ethic, it could also result in lower food costs for the school district.
Lunchtime Solutions, the district’s longtime food service provider, uses local growers to provide a variety of foods for the schools it serves. If the garden at the elementary school produces enough and at the right times, students could eat what they grow.
“We would love them to be able to use some of our stuff but it depends what’s ready in the fall,” Morris said.
Deni Winter with Lunchtime Solutions said the school district would be compensated for any garden-grown food served with school lunches in Dell Rapids.
Baltic to break ground on new school, community garden
The community garden being built by Baltic student is almost ready for planting too.
Second graders from Baltic Elementary envisioned a garden as a gathering and educational area to grow healthy food for their community. With the help of their teacher, other school staff and community members, the garden is coming to fruition.
A total of 31 raised bed were built for the Baltic garden over three weekends in April. The garden will provide areas for food production, flowers, composting and garden learning.
To celebrate the new garden and the second graders’ accomplishment, a ground breaking ceremony and party is planned from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 14 at the Baltic School and Community Garden at Nordic Field. The community is invited for food and music as well as to enjoy planting and children activities.
Those interested in donating to the project are invited to bring a garden tool, perennial flower or shrub to the event.
For more information visit the Baltic School website: www.baltic.k12.us, or contact Danielle Eszlinger at Baltic Elementary 605-529-5464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.