Middle schoolers extend garden club into the summer months

A pair of Monticello Middle School teachers are cultivating a love for gardening with a newly formed garden club. The group of six middle school students began meeting in the spring, getting some already-existent raised plots behind the school ready, then have continued meeting each Tuesday morning in the summer to tend the gardens and cook up their produce.

“We enjoy doing this with the kids,” said math teacher Micki Henrard, who sponsors the MMS Garden Club along with science instructor Cindy Heiniger. “It’s been fun to see this group of kids show up every week and show an interest in growing food and preparing it, and eating things they might not normally eat at home.”

The first half of the two-hour sessions are dedicated to tending the gardens, mostly vegetables with a few flowers thrown in. In addition, they are also starting to maintain a natural habitat that was also established several years ago.

Student participant Chris Lowe took us through a tour of the raised gardens, which had been used in the past but not in recent growing seasons.

“We’ve harvested some green beans. We’ve got tomatoes, zinnias – which there is a bee in there (to which Heiniger interjects, “yay, pollinators!”), sugar snap peas, sunflowers, and pumpkins that are going crazy,” said Lowe. There are also raspberries and onions in the MMS garden.

Henrard plans on using some of those pumpkins in the classroom this fall.

“I do a math unit revolving around pumpkins on Halloween, so I’m hoping I can use some of the pumpkins in the classroom,” she said.

Spilling the garden club into the summer was the only format that made sense, said Heiniger.

“If they planted in the spring, they still need to be tended to in the summer. Also, a group of new students in the fall could benefit from their work. This way, they get to enjoy the fruits of their labor,” she added.

The enjoyment comes in the second half of the morning meetings, as participants go inside and cook up some of the produce. So far this summer they have made sauteed zucchini, raspberry muffins, pickles, fried pumpkin blossoms and green beans.

“The kids have done a great job,” added Heiniger.

The Monticello Area Education Foundation awarded a $200 grant to help the club get started, which paid for some garden tools and fencing. Henrard donated most of the seeds.


Categories (3):News, Agriculture, Education


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