Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 17, 2017

April showers will bring ...

First student-led gardens set up Sunday at Lincoln Elementary
By Xiomara Levsen | Apr 08, 2013
Lincoln Elementary School Principal Dave Hoffman and Lincoln Elementary School third-grade teacher Sarah Bailey work on evening out the compost/soil mixture at Lincoln Elementary School on Sunday, April 7.

Staff from Lincoln Elementary School and community volunteers spent their Sunday afternoon working on the first-ever student-led-garden.
Thanks to a grant, Lincoln Elementary is able to have a garden.
Dave Hoffman, principal of Lincoln Elementary School, was one of the volunteers working Sunday. He said the school had been applying for grants for quite a few years to have a garden.
Hoffman hopes the students gain awareness about their health from the garden.
“We hope the kids get a better understanding of why eating healthy and eating right is important,” he said. “In today’s fast-paced fast-food society a lot of these kids have never seen some of these vegetables before, like zucchini.”
He also hopes the students take what they learn at the school’s garden and apply it at home.
“We’re hoping to provide a connection to the kids with growing your own food,” he said, “and that some of them will want to plant their own garden at home.”
There will be several stages to the garden like planting and harvesting, but for now the school is trying to figure out how to incorporate the garden into its curriculum.
“We’re trying to decide who’s responsible for what right now,” Hoffman said. “It looks like third grade will be doing the planting, fourth grade will be responsible for maintenance, and fifth grade will be responsible for harvesting. But that might change at some point.”
Scott Koepke, education outreach coordinator from New Pioneer Food Co-op, was directing the volunteers on what thickness they needed the soil/compost mixture to be for planting.
When it comes to gardening he has one main tip.
“I always tell people to start their gardens small for the first year,” Koepke said. “You can always expand it afterward.”
The student-led garden at Lincoln Elementary School will be 30 feet by 30 feet. It will have an array of plants in it.
“There will be a butterfly mix, herbs, flowers, and vegetables,” Koepke said.
Koepke has seen student-led gardens more and more in the eastern part of Iowa.
“This is one of 20 gardens I’m helping with,” he said. “The garden is a life skills class. It will teach the kids a balanced pattern for healthy eating and how to make healthy choices.”
Koepke told the volunteers that it would take about three weeks for the soil/compost to be warm enough for planting.
The school will be working with the University of Iowa, Washington County Public Health Department, the Washington County Obesity Taskforce, and a local grocery store throughout the gardening process this year.

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