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MISSION VIEJO | Community News Focus

Students Sow Seeds, Reap the Fun of Learning

March 12, 1997|KIMBERLY BROWER

Glen Yermo Elementary School students are taking learning outside the walls of the classroom as they dig, plant and conduct science and ecology experiments in their new community garden.

Elbow-deep in dirt, students recently planted 72 yellow and orange marigolds and gladioli bulbs. Although herbs, carrots, tomatoes and other vegetables are yet to be sown, the barely month-old 150-square-foot garden is already bustling with activity.

"It's fun," said 7-year-old Jesse Villareal. "I like playing in the dirt."

Every week, two second-grade classes and special education students visit the garden with their fifth- and sixth-grade "buddies." With hoses and tools in hand, the group of budding green thumbs work together as they learn how to plant, harvest and study the ecological environment they have created.

Second-grade teacher Nancy Hardy started the garden this year after receiving an $800 grant from the Saddleback Valley Education Foundation. Help also has come from parents who have donated materials and volunteered countless hours to the project, she said.

"The purpose was to encourage science and gardening . . . and to give the kids real-life experience," Hardy said. "The kids really love it."

The upper-grade students designed the entire layout of the garden in January, while younger students researched seeds and selected flowers, vegetables and herbs to plant. The community garden they created is divided into four areas: the butterfly garden, a rainbow flower garden, a science experiment area and a garden for edible crops. A compost station is planned for next year.

Hardy said even though students from four classes work the soil, the community garden is used by everyone at the school. Students in all grade levels use the plot to study everything from plant life cycles and stem growth to water research projects and seedling histories.

The opportunity to dig in the dirt and watch their small plot grow was both educational and a lot of fun, as evidenced by the smiles of the students, many of whom said they had never gardened or planted before.

"I learned that flowers could be different colors even if they're the same kind of flower," said 7-year-old Neda Amouzadeh. "I liked it."

Added fifth-grader Nina Nair, "I don't have a garden at home so I like working here with my buddy."

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