Goessel kinder– ‘gardeners’ dig sunflower house
School garden wins statewide award
Start with soil. Drop in a few seeds. Sprinkle with a bit of water. Add kids — all needed for the learning garden at Goessel schools.
The garden was planted last spring and is now exploding with fresh produce, thanks to part-time garden coordinator Pam Abrahams, teachers, aides, and students. This year pre-school members will be introduced along with kindergarten through fifth grade students.
Being in school only two weeks, kindergarten students didn’t plant the spring garden but are having fun harvesting produce and giving it to school cooks to prepare for meals.
Cook Sandra Duerksen said she’s amazed at how the kids eat what was grown in the garden.
“They are more excited about eating what they grow and pick,” Duerksen said. “Sometimes it’s the first time students have tried the produce.”
Duerksen said from all the crops cooked, sweet potatoes — baked, mashed or French fried — have been the most challenging and not very popular.
Although Duerksen doesn’t know the savings the school is netting by utilizing the fresh produce, she said it’s nice knowing she’ll have fresh vegetables without buying them.
The garden began 7 years ago from grant funding. Abrahams took on the project two years ago. She loves gardening and has been doing it for 15 years. With her teaching degree, she feels the combination of teaching and gardening experiences definitely are helping her students.
Garden curriculum integrates science, botany, literature, art and math and the cafeteria uses the produce to create a holistic, hands-on experience.
Abrahams said it’s important to show students how and where their food comes from.
“We have a sensory garden where children are encouraged to use their senses outdoors,” she said.
Herbs are used for smelling, lettuce for tasting, color and size for seeing, insects and leaf rustlings for hearing, and furry or bumpy foliage for touching.
The garden is significant in teaching kids the importance of being outside and helping them be aware of their surroundings, Abrahams said.
The sunflower house is the gardens’ favorite thing for kindergarteners, probably because the sunflowers are well over 10 feet tall, Abrahams said.
The garden recently received a Kansans Can Celebrate Nutrition and Wellness Special Events award for the growth of and benefits from the garden.