Cool weather can't stop Rehoboth garden

Elementary school combines hands-on work with science units
October 17, 2012

Little fingers were busy planting tiny seeds Sept. 26 as students at Rehoboth Elementary prepared a fall garden.

Amanda Johnson's kindergarten class helped plant lettuce, kale, arugula, turnips and rainbow chard – plants that thrive in cooler temperatures.

Kindergartner Ashley Fonseca-Romera said she had never heard of some of the plants her class helped plant. "But when they're ready to eat, I'm going to give them a try," she said.

Her classmate, Gabe Smyth, also plans to try the home-grown veggies.

"I eat a lot of salad," he said. "Usually lettuce with tomatoes."

Overseeing the garden project was Thiandra Manzara of Healthy Foods for Healthy Kids.

Statewide, Manzara helps 18 school-planted and operated gardens. Rehoboth Elementary's garden is the only downstate garden participating in the program.

"They were looking for someone to put the garden activities together with the curriculum," Manzara said.

Science units broken down by grade will use the garden to give students hands-on knowledge of what they are studying. Second-graders prepared the soil as part of a soil unit, and third-graders will be responsible for watering as part of a water unit, said Principal Trish Mumford.

Rehoboth completed its garden last spring with raised beds and an irrigation system. Mumford credits a dedicated group of parents and volunteers with helping finish the garden project.

"It's pretty cool," she said. "I think the kids really like it."

Manzara said garden produce should be ready to pick between Halloween and Thanksgiving.

"It'll take less time if it's warm and sunny," she told the kindergartners who helped plant. "They like the sun."

Once the garden is harvested, students will have a chance to try the fresh produce in the cafeteria or the classroom, Manzara said.

Vegetables not eaten will be composted in preparation of the spring garden.

"Then the garden will be put to bed in the off season," Mumford said.


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