Something is growing at Eden Park

Submitted photo/Jennifer L. Kupiec

There’s something growing over at Eden Park Elementary School! The school’s garden is blooming with items such as cilantro, peppers, and lettuce to make delicious salads.

It was just over a year ago that Eden Park’s garden had fallen into disrepair when physical education teacher, Lori Davidson, decided to turn things around. She spent much of last year redesigning and adding height to the garden so that her students could put it to good use. The Miracle after-school program and the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension (UF/IFAS) helped with some funding and several staff members with farm connections donated seeds and mulch.

“I work with different groups of third graders from the Miracle after-school program and I rotate about 25 different students to work in the garden before school every day.”

In the morning, you’ll find students watering and weeding, doing bug patrol duty, and providing overall maintenance of the garden. They let Davidson know when things are ready to harvest. The students have a work schedule and responsibility charts which hold them accountable for their assignments. “The students have become very independent and responsible through the process,” shares Davidson.
When Davidson meets with her after-school students, she teaches them how to do it all, from planting to harvesting, and provides lessons on plants and vegetables. And the garden is flourishing thanks to all of the hard work of the students, with Davidson by their side.

So what happens to all of the vegetables that are harvested? The kids take turns taking home the “veggies” of their labor.
I’m sure the students are proud to bring home what they helped to grow with their own hands. And I bet there have been many great meals made with those vegetables!

Jennifer L. Kupiec is the Specialist, Communications & Community Engagement Collier County Public Schools

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