- Author: Don Kunze
My wife, Mrs. Kunze, is a 2nd grade teacher at Bishop Union Elementary where she has taught for the past 31 years. She and her next door teacher, Mrs. Kubiak, also teaching second grade, often do class projects together and such was the case as they discussed how to teach the mathematical skill of making a line graph. Their idea involved planting something that would grow, that the kids could measure and graph, and would be fun for them while teaching them multiple skills. After 33 years of being the husband to a 2nd grade school teacher, it was no surprise that my name was quickly decided upon as someone that could help out on this project.
Finding ways to get my volunteer hours in that did not involve weeding the community garden demonstration plot was an opportunity I appreciated and this presented the chance to show the class not only how to plant a seed, but to also talk about how seeds grow, nutrition, the joy of gardening.
Cost of the presentation was kept to a minimum, I bought 1 cubic foot of potting soil, sixty blue and red 18-ounce Solo cups, and 1 packet of sugar snap peas. I chose the peas as they were easy for second graders handle and plant, and since they have a fairly quick germination time (8-12 days) it helps to keep the kids interested. Also, they were something that would produce a tasty treat that could be picked and eaten right off the plant when mature. The money spent was paid out of classroom funds raised at the Harvest Hoedown - a fundraiser which is held every fall to enable just these kinds of classroom projects.
I arrived at Elm Street School at 10:30 Monday morning, green Master Gardener apron on, name tag in place and proceeded to the classrooms to prepare for my presentation. Both classes joined together while I spoke to them about whom I was, the Master Gardner Program, how plants grow and the different ways to start them, along with the benefits of eating fresh vegetables right out of your garden. Although I had the official Master Gardner business cards, and said I could help them find online resources, being second graders they did not seem too interested in that part of my presentation. I answered several questions, many of which were actually stories about an individual student's gardening experience and then moved on to the next part of my presentation.
The classes separated and went back to their respective rooms and the process of sending students to meet with me four at a time began. I enjoyed this part the most as I was able to speak individually to each student, and assist them with planting their seed. After writing their name with a sharpie on the outside of the cup, then punching a hole in the bottom, I would give it to the student to fill with the potting mix then, I would add water and they would pack the soil down. After using their finger, to make a hole in the soil, they would pick and place the seed in the hole, and cover it back up and again, pack it down. From there they would take their cup outside and place it in a tray donated by Bishop Nursery. I would then repeat the process with the next student. It took several hours but by 1:30 that afternoon, all the seeds were planted and set outside.
Putting their hands in the soil was met with a reaction that ranged from joy to yuck, but mostly joy. Listening to them talk about how some of them did this at home and how much they enjoyed working in their own gardens was fun. I was especially taken back by how many worked in the garden with a grandparent and how close and inspired they felt by doing so. This was something we might all remember when we spend time with our kids or grandkids. For most of these children, gardening was a joy, but for far too many it was something they had never done.
I am now done with my part of this project unless Mrs. Kunze or Mrs. Kubiak has reason to bring me back. As I said, they are planning on doing a math lesson teaching line graphs that will require keeping track of dates and how much each plant has grown by particular date. For me, I anxiously await, hoping that the seeds will sprout and the kids will find that joy in eventually getting to pick sugar snap peas right off their own bush and enjoy that wonderful delight. I have about 15 extra cups planted just in case some seeds do not sprout but I can use them in my own garden or I'll have sugar snap pea plants for the next MG meeting to give away.
- Author: Laura Mogg.
Have you seen the new demonstration plot at Bishop's Community garden? If not, make a trip to the covered picnic area on the Pine to Park path at the back of the City Park, and find a plot with three pole tee-pees. This demo garden was created to inspire children, but instead of a sign saying, “Children's Garden" I think it should be labeled "The Enchanted Garden" to appeal to all who are young at heart.
The garden was planted in early May with flower transplants and seeds, pole beans around the tee-pees, and gourds along the trellis on the north side — very simple. Where there is nothing growing, we will lay a meandering stone path and that is all, apart from the fairy houses. If you don't know what fairy houses are, you'll have to come to find out!
In early June things started to grow, and by the end of summer we hope to have a maze of sunflowers around the beans with children hiding in the tee-pees and playing with fairy houses. By September there should be lots of extra fun with birdhouse and baseball-bat gourds.
Master Gardeners work with the Bishop Community Garden to demonstrate garden practices and to get the public excited about gardening.
Come with your children, grandchildren, or neighbors and watch this new garden grow through the seasons. See you there!