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Sowing Seeds and Cultivating a Community

By
Milagros Sessions,   Workman Middle School
Play:
Topics:
Access to Healthy Foods, Community Involvement, Physical Activity Participation, Success with Funds,  Teamwork
Sowing Seeds and Cultivating a Community

The School Gardens Team,  built by Mrs. Milly Sessions, M.Ed. At J.H. Workman I.B. Middle School the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), are sowing seeds and learning about the value of organic gardening and sustainability. At J.H. Workman, we have been building a garden step-by-step and learning about the importance of healthy choices. ESOL teachers applied for and were awarded a series of grants from various establishments including Fuel Up to Play 60. The monies were used to purchase the seeds, organic soil amendments, gardening tools, a shed to house all the tools, gloves for each student, 10 fruit trees, and a greenhouse to house the seedlings not quite ready to be planted into the raised beds. There are ten fruit trees purchased and planted by the students that include apple, plum, fig, citrus fruit, peach, and pomegranate. Students helped to design the layout, chosen after research, and chose the seeds to start in the classroom grow lab. Students learned the true meaning of cooperative learning, and the American expression "sweat equity" and being invested. Teachers were tasked with incorporating the Florida Benchmarks and Standards, WIDA principles for language acquisition, and the International Baccalaureate Principles into Practice. Time management and weather are always factors that teachers must contend with; however, students stepped up and got their tasks completed in order to participate in the garden and harvest process. What a learning experience, to plant a seed, watch it develop through care into a seedling in the classroom grow lab, or our class Aquaponics system, then to go out and plant the seedlings and watch them grow into nourishment for people. To date, our students have donated 211 pounds of fresh produce from the ESOL Organic Garden to the Manna Food Bank. This year in keeping with the spirit of improvement, ESOL students designed, named, and built an outdoor classroom area called the J.H. Workman Serenity Garden, which includes a pond and waterfall. This addition will later double as an Aquaponics and vegetable extension. We also collaborated on the Butterfly Garden beautification project. Our students were able to purchase dairy products and physical education equipment that was both different and motivating to our students. Parents, staff, and community partners alike have volunteered numerous hours to accomplish our goal of healthy eating/healthy Choices Take 2. We are extremely proud of our students for giving their time and labor to benefit their school and community.

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

We plan to continue to work with the Manna Food Bank to keep our school supplying fresh organic produce to those less fortunate. To date, we have donated 211 pounds to the Manna Food Bank and believe our students are learning that very important lesson of stewardship and environmental conservation.

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Time commitments and weather were factors that were somewhat OUT OF OUR CONTROL.

How did students and adults work together as a team?

students, staff and parents came together on Saturdays to accomplish the various tasks.