BY AMANDA MOSES
The Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC) is sprouting with life this spring. Tiny seedlings can be seen within the garden beds surrounded by blossoming marigolds. Even the pear trees are starting to sprout fruit! Garden Educator Jacqui Roytman has been working diligently with several elementary and middle school students, as well as the Spring Creek Senior Partners’ Gardening Club, every week to plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers.
Gateway Intermediate School (IS) 364’s students in Ms. Laura Saccomanno’s class are always happy to visit the UGC. The groups of sixth graders have learned how to: amend the soil, spot weeds, keep plants hydrated, and observe the wide array of insects that live in the garden. Last week, the students planted a pizza garden. Roytman asked the students what were some of the ingredients found on pizza. Some children said cheese, tomatoes, and peppers. Roytman said that they can’t grow cheese in the garden since it comes from cows, but they can grow all of the herbs that make pizza taste great.
The students donned their gardening gloves and took out their hand tillers to prepare the soil for planting. Once the soil was amended, the children used trowels to dig small holes in the garden bed. They filled the holes with water and then planted: basil, green pepper, tomato, oregano, and eggplant. In addition to the herbs and vegetables, Roytman gave the students flowers to plant in their garden bed to help the vegetation grow. She explained to the class that natural flora attracts pollinators, such as butterflies and bees. These creatures help to spread pollen throughout the gar-den, allowing all of the plants to flourish.
“Nature is fun. I watch shows on animals and other nature things all the time. I like it so much,” Amaya Garcia told Roytman as they planted.
The next lesson the students learned was about making observations on red wiggly worms and pill bugs (roly polies). The class dug into an empty garden bed and saw that the red wiggle worms liked to be buried deep into the soil. “Bugs are important in keeping everything healthy. Worms are good for the soil because their waste makes com-post, which is good for the plants,” Roytman said.
“I really like being in the garden because I can look at the bugs. We saw a spider! I also like sharing the garden tools with my friends,” Antonio Brown said.
Photos by Amanda Moses