Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Garden Club Beginnings @ Cloverdale Middle

Lately, lots of things have been going on in Little Rock. My service plan has been revisited and revised, I’m spending more time in the classroom, and my salads have been getting fewer lip snarls. The biggest thing, however, is garden club!

In January, I almost lost the club sponsor I tirelessly pursued during the first semester. Without a faculty sponsor, I couldn’t have a club at the school. I was discouraged because without garden club, students from outside of the research study would not be able to enjoy this slice of paradise! Fortunately, my sponsor was able to stay on and commit to at least this semester. We met at the end of January to discuss what we envisioned for the club, what time and date worked best for both us and the students, and how we would divide responsibilities. All went well.

I solicited the help of my friends to help me make posters for garden club. We spent a few nights with card stock, pencils, markers, and crayons creating these advertisements. A week before the club’s first meeting I put them up around the school. That whole week announcements were made in the morning and the evening to remind students about the fun they could have after school in the garden.

On February 4, I waited for the students to roll in. 4:15 came and went, and one student was sitting in the room. At 4:25, two more rolled in. I was overjoyed! My sponsor and I sat down with the students, butcher paper, and pens. We told them what our ideas were, and then they shared theirs. Then we went outside. The weather was not lovely. Our perpetually flooded garden was wet. Normally, walking outside with a class would mean talking through sighs and moans about clean shoes. Not this group. These guys were prepared. Armed with the digging forks I gave them, they stood around the bed I had selected.

I asked them if they knew what plant we were looking at. No one answered. Silences never make me comfortable, but I waited it out. Finally, one girl noticed a bare shoulder. She correctly identified the bed as being filled with carrots. Then harvesting began. I showed them how to pick up tons of carrots at once with a fork, and then how to really get dirty by picking out the carrots by hand. This group liked mud under their nails.

Together we filled a five-gallon container to the top with carrots. Then the rain came. We hurried to the greenhouse where I had water ready to rinse the carrots. I eyeballed the portions out to give each student the same amount to take home, and then I remembered that we needed to weigh everything that left the garden. The students weighed their bag individually, tared it out, and weighed their carrots. The last bag weighed had almost double the weight of the others.

Without even thinking, the boy holding this bag took handfuls of his bounty and gave them to the other students. We weighed them again and everyone went home with almost three pounds of carrots. We ended our first meeting armed with a list of expectations and goals and each student went home with carrots to share with their families.

The next day, I walked into the media center and I saw the boy who shared his harvest during garden club. He pulled a container from his backpack and it was full of carrots! He told me that he helped his mom rinse, scrub, and cut the carrots when he got home. This morning, he took a tub to school and she took one to work. He can't wait to bring home more!

by Jade Salzman

1 comment:

  1. Oh this is such a fantastic story! Obtaining sponsorship is such a hard thing to do in some cases and when you face that disappointment then worry that no one will show interest...it's hard! But obviously you have something good going on there and I think it will grow bigger!