Gardening and the School’s Salad Bar

GARDNER GARDENERS
The greenhouse at Gardner School was built a couple decades ago and has been used for a variety of projects over the years. The past two years it has been the science lab for the preschool and kindergarten classes as they gather once a week to get their hands dirty. They have learned the process of growing food and flowers starting with filling the seed trays with soil, planting the seeds transplanting the baby plants, watering and finally harvesting and eating them. They have enjoyed trying new herbs (chives, lemon balm, oregano, spearmint, cilantro and parsley) and edible flowers (nasturtiums) from the beautiful flower garden in front of the school. They have experimented growing potatoes in a tub, avocado and ginger plants and popcorn. They’ve learned to look through their
magnifying glasses for aphids and other pests and to observe changes in the greenhouse from week to week.
Last fall we started two new flower gardens—one for each class—and planted mums and pansies for fall blooms and tulips, daffodils and crocus which are blooming now. [Come by and check them out.] Next week we will transplant annuals that we started from seed into their gardens for summer blooms.
This month we celebrated the one year anniversary of our avocado plant, which we have been keeping charts on, measuring and counting leaves every few weeks. We made a big wall chart and played “pin the leaf on the avocado tree” and made guacamole, taking turns mashing the avocados and squeezing the juice out of limes. We had planted the pit last spring and at the end of May, it was six inches tall with only 5 leaves. By September it was 22” tall with 11 leaves and now it’s 41” tall and has 31 leaves. Since it takes about nine years to produce fruit, we figure when the present kinders are ready to graduate Gardner School, we should be able to make guacamole for the graduation party!
This year, thanks to the Live Well grant, the school has salad bar once a week and the greenhouse has supplemented the purchased vegetables with our own organic mixed greens, spinach, and radishes. Peas and spinach have been planted in our garden in back of the school and we have squash, cabbage and cukes growing inside that will be planted out as soon as weather permits for harvest when school opens in August.
We have been able to raise money the past two years by selling plants, some of them in pretty flower pots hand-painted by the kids.  We have also been fortunate to have community support from individuals and local non-profits in the form of labor, equipment, and supplies.  If you like to garden and are looking for summer volunteer work (we need help caring for both the flower and vegetable gardens), call Pam at the school (746-2446) or Johnnye Mullen (746-2345)
Written by Johnnye Mullen