First, the fourth- and fifth-grade students in Linda Crawford’s class made folded newspaper pots, filled them with potting soil and planted tiny seeds inside. They watered them carefully and gently, gave them some sunshine and watched.
In a few weeks, green sprouts poked through the dark soil then tiny leaves appeared. Within days, the classroom came alive with tender green plants. Then it was time for those young sprouts to be let go from the classroom.
Once the final bell rang at West Sedona School on Thursday, Oct. 7, the students who had formed a garden club gathered up the young snow pea and cabbage plants and took them to the garden just outside the cafeteria. It was time to plant a winter garden.
The garden was soft from the recent rains, some places muddy, so Keely Arbogast rolled up her jeans and walked into the fenced area in her black patent leather shoes and white socks. Arbogast, a fourth-grader, joined the garden club for many reasons.
“It sounded really fun, and we have a garden at home, and it’s really cool. You get a big space where you can dig and get dirty without your mom yelling at you,” Arbogast said as she swept some of her stray blond hair from her face with a hand wearing an oversized garden glove. “You can get a whole bunch of food that tastes better and you don’t have to pay for it.”
Crawford is part of the school’s sustainability team and works with Gardens for Humanity. She is impressed with the students’ enthusiasm.
“Our former garden was demolished with the construction, so we’re happy to be starting a new one,” Crawford said. “In this plot we’re looking at food we could even use in the kitchen here on campus.”
The school’s campus on Posse Ground Road underwent construction to erect a new building and several other amenities over the summer.
Eventually the garden will be divided for various classrooms for the students to work as a way to enhance the curriculum, Crawford said. It will give the students a chance to see how the food they buy at the grocery store comes about.
About 12 children started digging holes for the young plants. Others plotted out areas where they will start with seeds planted directly into the garden’s soil. One area previously dug for a possible herb garden had to be temporarily abandoned. It was full of rocks and water stood in it about three inches deep — it would not drain.
“Is this good for the plants?” Crawford asked the students. They all answered it was not because the roots need soil that drains excess water away so they don’t rot and kill the plant. The area will be reworked and new soil put in.
Kayla Rabago, a fifth-grade student, said she was in the garden club last year and enjoyed it so much she wanted to be sure to join again this year.
“I love to garden, to grow and eat our own food. My favorites are cucumbers and corn. It’s fun to see stuff come up,” Rabago said.
The students will still take care of the plants just as diligently as they did in the classroom. Hopefully, in a few more weeks they will begin to harvest some of the fruits of their labors.
The garden area is approximately 20 feet by 30 feet with a 3-foot fence surrounding it. One corner has room for a composting drum so the students can put in vegetable and fruit scraps, grass clippings and fallen leaves to make more soil for the garden.