The greenhouses at The Bergens have been growing experiences for the students. Garden Clubs have cropped up at both schools, and they meet during lunch to plant seeds, tend to the plants, harvest and …
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The greenhouses at The Bergens have been growing experiences for the students.
Garden Clubs have cropped up at both schools, and they meet during lunch to plant seeds, tend to the plants, harvest and prepare the soil for another round.
“It’s vital for kids to know where their food comes from,” said Jeri Hazeltine, who volunteers with the Bergen Valley Garden Club. “When you grow your own food, you get excited to eat it because you have ownership.”
Parent volunteer Annie Howe added she hoped the children would try a wider variety of foods if they grew them because there’s a lot that goes into growing fruits and vegetables.
“They get so excited,” parent Kate McMillan said of the students in the clubs as they watch the growing process.
Both schools now have geodesic-dome greenhouses — Bergen Valley’s installed in fall 2018 and Bergen Meadow’s installed in spring 2020. Now the Garden Clubs at both schools are blooming, and they’re testing whether they can grow a variety of seeds even as cold weather sets in in Evergreen.
Every grade level is involved, according to teacher-librarian Elizabeth Mehmen.
“Now that we’re back (in school) and in full swing, we wanted to start clubs up at both schools,” Mehmen said, noting that parents have volunteered to coordinate meetings.
At a recent meeting of the third graders in the Bergen Valley Garden Club, students Molly McMillan, Evelyn Howe and Saphira Bloomer learned about planting flower bulbs, such as which end goes up and why, how deep to plant them and why bulbs are planted in the fall rather than the spring before trying their hands at doing the planting.
Molly and Saphira said they like to garden, so they joined the Garden Club to do even more gardening, while Evelyn wanted to learn about the pastime. Saphira likes planting seeds, while Molly and Evelyn like watching the plants grow.
After the most recent harvest, the Garden Clubs have planted carrots, corn, peas, watermelon, cantaloupe and tomatoes. It will be a science experiment to see if all of the seeds germinate in colder temperatures, volunteer leaders said.
At a recent meeting of the first graders in the Bergen Meadow Garden Club, parent volunteer Carrie Whittlesey had students collecting pumpkin seeds that will be cleaned and dried, so they can be planted later. She called the orange gooey pulp that surrounds the seeds “pumpkin poo.”
Recently, second graders in the club released butterflies into the Bergen Meadow greenhouse, allowing them to look at the beautiful creatures up close and personal.
The first graders said in unison that their favorite part of being in the club is planting seeds, plus getting their hands dirty and eating the vegetables they grow.
Whittlesey said the Garden Clubs are so new that the volunteers and students are learning together about growing, greenhouses and running the clubs.
Hazeltine said the added bonus for the Garden Club is: “We learn about gardening from each other. They are all eager to learn and try new things.”
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