Students digging in garden bed

With Earth Day just around the corner, kindergarten and first-grade students at A.W. Becker Elementary and Pieter B. Coeymans Elementary began planting their campus gardens last week. Earth Day, a day internationally celebrated, brings awareness to the necessity of having thriving natural habitats and highlights the importance of taking care of our home, earth.  

This year, the campuses have multiple garden beds designed to provide classrooms with opportunities to learn farm-to-school connections as part of their project-based learning curriculum. Additionally, each grade level will be offered the opportunity to enrich their classroom experience by utilizing a garden bed of their own. 

Although the plants are just getting into the ground, the work began earlier this school year as they expanded their existing gardens to accommodate more room for more classes to participate. As the temperatures start to rise, students and staff have been busy inside and out getting everything ready. 

Classes started their seedlings in their classrooms over the winter. But before any seeds were started, the students researched what was needed to have a successful and fruitful garden. Kindergarten focused on the environment, they discussed how plants, much like humans, have a preferred season. They explored how the weather might affect a plant's start from seed to leaves, and what environmental factors contribute to a successful garden.

The first grade focused their studies on the different parts of plants. To partner with this research, these classes will be growing root, stem, and leaf gardens, as well as flowers, fruit, and seed gardens. They are calling them root-to-fruit gardens! They have an item where you can eat the roots (carrots), the stems (green onions), the leaves (lettuce), the flowers (broccoli), the fruit (strawberry), and the seeds (peas). 

“The students are so excited to finally be able to get their plants outside,” said Project-Based Learning Coach Melinda White. “By using nature in our curriculum, we are able to discuss the impact our environment has on our day-to-day life, expanding our student's knowledge of where they love to grow, learn, and play. We cannot wait to watch plants take off growing in the coming months!”

Big thank you to everyone who helped make the gardens possible, including volunteer and RCS retired teacher Melanie Collins and Project-Based Learning Coach Melinda White, who assisted the students in planting their beds!