Planting seeds for future; Woodson students learn about gardening with greenhouse
Published 10:28 am Friday, May 1, 2015
Six-year-old Nathan Frederick enjoys learning about plants and growing seeds in the greenhouse at Woodson Kindergarten Center.
“I like growing radishes because they’re so spicy and I like spicy things,” Nathan said.
A handful of kindergarteners from the blue duckling class went to the greenhouse Thursday morning to check on the plants, water them and learn more about how seeds grow into flowers or food.
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Woodson put up the 24-by-12-foot greenhouse last fall after the idea was sparked when Woodson staff discussed a new science curriculum. The greenhouse idea picked up steam last spring when Woodson was a finalist to receive one of two $20,000 grants or one of 15 $10,000 grants through Seeds of Change. Woodson again applied for the grants this year, but did not make it in the top 50 schools.
Though the school did not receive any of the grants, other community groups stepped up. Woodson received funds and support from the Austin Public Education Foundation, Woodson PTC and the Kiwanis Club, along with other businesses and organizations.
Despite not getting the seeds of change grants, the garden is growing into an essential learning tool. Students go out to the greenhouse every day. For Nathan, learning about plants is fun and reminds him of when he and his grandparents used to pick berries in their garden. He hasn’t let the new gardening skills go to waste.
“We’re trying to make corn under the swing set, because there is no sand but there’s dirt,” Nathan said. “So me and my brother call it a dirt box.”
He has had fun learning about plants and hopes to continue visiting the greenhouse. His teacher, Alisha Galle, has enjoyed seeing the connections the students have made by working in the greenhouse.
“The kids, just to see the looks on their faces when they go out — ‘Oh my gosh, it’s sprouting, it’s finally starting to grow’ — I mean it makes you feel like they’re really making the connection,” Galle said.
The garden grows vegetables such as tomatoes, radishes, lettuce and peas, along with other plants like flowers.
“There’s a whole assortment of things,” Galle said.
For 6-year-old Quinn Osgood, the greenhouse is a fun part of the school day.
“Because we plant a lot of stuff,” Quinn said.
She especially enjoys planting corn, because it’s healthy and she likes to eat it. Quinn connected the greenhouse at Woodson with a garden she and her family planted at her house.
“And I made a garden when it was Earth Day, with my family,” she said excitedly.
She also hopes to continue to visit the greenhouse during school, and she said other students should try gardening because it’s fun.
The greenhouse is still in the beginning stages of gardening, according to Galle, but it’s been a great experience for the students.
“Right now we are in the beginning stages of growing the plants, so we’ve been talking about seeds and how they start sprouting and so the kids have the chance to see it from the very beginning,” Galle said. “So they get to add the dirt in, they get to add the seeds in there. And then we continually go out so they are able to water and take care of the plants, and see how to maintain things that grow.”
Galle hopes the students learn more about science and find the real-life connections through gardening.
“We want them to be able to take this home with them and say, ‘Hey let’s plant a garden at home,’” she said. “And so families can then have fresh things growing from their garden.”
Galle thanked the organizations that have helped with the greenhouse, and said because of the need for maintenance over the summer, there could be opportunities for volunteers to help out.
Woodson has more plans for the interior courtyard. Woodson teachers plan to work with landscaping and woodworking classes at Austin High School within the next few weeks to beautify the courtyard and create outdoor seating where teachers can bring a class to learn outdoors. Because the courtyard is enclosed, it is a good place for the greenhouse, which means there are no worries about the students’ safety during school or about people accessing the garden after school hours. Galle hopes with the success of this first year the greenhouse will continue for many years to come.
“I know they’re having a lot of classes going out there,” she said. “So I think all the classes are experiencing success with it and having fun.”