Gardening project paying dividends for PLAS freshmen

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, April 18, 2018

At Pike Liberal Arts School, Jane Thrash is teaching across the curriculum. Her ninth-grade health classes may not have a clue about that but they are having a good time learning about healthy nutrition and healthy environments while digging in the dirt.

Thrash’s two health classes are on different paths that lead to the same goal – healthy living.

The students have planted an in-ground garden, a raised garden and a container garden. And, how do their gardens grow? “Very well,” the students said with a smile, as they showed off their red potatoes, their tomato blooms and the green, green lettuce leaves.
“I wanted the students to have the opportunity to learn how vegetables are grown,” Thrash said. “I wanted them to learn hands-on.”

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The gardening project got underway in the fall and it’s beginning to pay dividends.

“And, talk about excitement!”

The students grew their plants from seeds and from seedlings and worked under ideal conditions – in the PLAS greenhouse – and, in conditions not so ideal, outside in the garden.

“We are very excited to have a greenhouse that allowed us to grow plants from seeds and care for the plants during cold weather,” Thrash said. “The students learned how to prepare soil in our outdoor garden. They learned about fertilizers and about watering. Before long, they will watch their plants become productive. It has been exciting to see them excited about this gardening project.”

When the garden becomes productive, Joseph Riley said hopes are to have enough produce for self-consumption, for the salad bar at the school cafeteria and, maybe, some to sell.

The students sold ferns and poinsettias to raise money for their garden projects. They built birdhouses and butterfly houses to add color and interest to their vegetable garden and to the flower garden at the school’s upper entrance.

There, the butterfly houses are the focal point of a butterfly garden that will attract butterflies from spring until fall.

Thrash said the garden project was and is an opportunity to teach across the curriculum.

“It involved reading. The students read about plants and their care, about soils, fertilizers. They learned to identify plants. They used math to construct the raised beds and build the birdhouses and butterfly houses. Art was included as they painted and decorated the houses.

“The students learned about finances when they bought the ferns and poinsettias and marketing when they sold them. They learned the importance of working together in the planting and caring for the garden. The gardening project has been a good learning project.”

Scott Taylor said he has enjoyed the opportunity for hands-on learning and is excited that the plants they grew from seeds are growing and will be productive.

Joseph said his classmates are proud that Thrash took the classroom outside and gave them the opportunity to learn from doing.

“She has made learning about health fun,” he said.