Members of the Monticello Middle School Garden Club enjoyed the fruits of their summer labors on Wednesday morning (Aug. 7) with a salsa-making session. The tasty, homemade concoction included tomatoes and onions that were grown in a garden behind the school.

It’s not the only treat that members of the club have consumed, thanks to their work tending the crops. They have also been able to eat green beans and onions, mini pizzas, salads, soups and raspberry shortcake thanks to a good growing season.

This is the second year for the garden club, which is funded by a $220 grant from the Monticello Area Education Foundation.

Club members have also been diligent about revitalizing a natural habitat area that can be used as an outdoor classroom, which got help from a $539 Schoolyard Habitat Action grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

The original plantings and stone paths of the naturalized area were established through the work of now retired teachers Georgienne Benson and Belinda Beccue,” said middle school teacher Cindy Heiniger, who supervises the garden club.

Bringing a fresh look and creating a usable outdoor classroom has been a project of the MMS Garden Club for two years. The maintenance and enhancement of the naturalized area will be an ongoing project for the MMS Garden Club,” added Heiniger.

The effort was also helped by school janitors, mulch from the City of Monticello, and special guests Andrea Bailey and Nikki Henrard, who led some of the cooking sessions.

Heiniger’s Science Club also helped tend to the garden before school let out in May.

Students who took part in garden club this summer were Sylvia Miller, Laila Miller, Daniel St. John, Sam Spencer, Alice Swanson, Lauren Kraus, Jody VanVleet, Megan Allen, Kaylin Murph and Connor Rodgers.