Teaching Garden yields bounty of lessons
By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent September 14, 2012 3:18PM
First-graders prepare to harvest vegetables from their Teaching Garden at Liberty Elementary School in Hobart, Ind., Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Students later learned how to cook with the vegetables they harvested. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 18, 2012 6:08AM
The usual morning routine at Liberty Elementary School in Hobart was put on the shelf recently as the school celebrated a Teaching Garden “Harvest Day” event.
The day’s agenda included an all-school morning assembly; harvesting the fruits, vegetables and herbs they planted in May as part of the American Heart Association Teaching Garden program; and making salsa and marinara sauce with their freshly picked ingredients.
“This experience is teaching the students that there is a systematic way of doing things — from point A to point B, there is a rhyme and reason,” said Liberty teacher’s assistant Wendy Willis at the assembly. “Teamwork and being cooperative are important, they are all working for the same goal.”
Representatives from the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana took over the first part of the assembly, getting the children on their feet and doing exercises and dances for 15 minutes.
Each class from grades one to five took its turn at the planter boxes in the school’s courtyard. Each grade level had its own planter box.
This was part of the American Heart Association’s Teaching Garden program, which in this instance, was underwritten by St. Mary Medical Center.
Students patiently and gingerly picked tomatoes, peppers and herbs. A small area on the ground near the boxes had sprouted two seedless watermelons, but they hadn’t ripened yet, and were too small to pick.
Large bowls were placed on a nearby table, and the bounty was placed in these bowls, to stay until cooking class that afternoon.
After planting herbs, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, chives, parsley, sage, rosemary, basil and oregano in the spring, the garden was tended by volunteers during the summer.
“I came every Tuesday with my mom, even when it was so hot,” said second-grader Nacy McCadden, 8. “We had to carefully water all the vegetables and herbs. That was so important.”
Teaching Gardens are part of the American Heart Association’s “My Heart. My Life.” healthy behavior platform.
“ ‘My Heart. My Life.’ emphasizes our commitment to invest in prevention strategies to reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke in our community,” said Janice Ryba, CEO of St. Mary Medical Center. “Through our partnership, the hands-on Teaching Garden for young students provides another opportunity for our hospital staff to lead by example and set the standard for creating easily accessible and enjoyable opportunities to build a culture of wellness.”