THAT GARDEN BEHIND Hudson’s Junior High School has come a long way in two years. In fact, it’s morphed from the single garden the students planted into two—one for perennials and one for annuals. While some gardens are beautiful but offer nothing to chow down on, that’s not the case here. Every plant in the Henry Hudson Discovery Gardens is or bears something kids can eat, even if it is a flower—like the edible blue violas and the nasturtiums, which are pretty as well as delicious and nutritious.
What, you never ate a flower in your salad? Try it, kids. Don’t be the only one in your class who hasn’t!
These are lush gardens, filled with dozens of plant varieties, so many that each garden now has its own map to help students keep track of who’s doing what where. The maps also come in handy to show where things were planted, because, as students have noticed, sometimes things move around– as happens when helpful critters like chipmunks or birds eat something and then deposit a seed several feet away–resulting in “volunteers” springing up where no human planted them.
Plus, maybe the kids will have to keep an eye on the Egyptian Walking Onions to see where they might head off to. Will those onions need a map? (No, probably not.) Will the kiwis worry when they see they’re in New York instead of New Zealand? (No, the kiwis are fine; this variety is specially adapted for our climate.) Even the Jerusalem artichokes can feel at home here. The kids know. They’ll tell you.
These gardens have been prolific, and much of their yield this spring went directly to the school’s salad bar, as it did in seasons gone by. Now, with their raised beds filled by students with beautiful, life-sustaining locally donated soil, they’re heading into summertime poised to produce harvests of all manner of delectable garden produce.
This is a funny time of year for school gardens, since schools typically aren’t in session over the summer. That’s especially frustrating for schools at this latitude, where a big chunk of the crop ripens in July and August. Farm-to-school organizations provide ideas to help keep the kids in their gardens over the summer. All require some parent/kid cooperation, which is quite okay, especially since gardens are the perfect venue for intergenerational mingling. And whoever’s there gets to pick whatever’s ripe!
For this summer, two individuals have agreed to weed and water to keep the Discovery Gardens going. In return, the gardens will produce a lovely variety of food to augment their dinners. But it’s a long summer, and many families could reap the benefits. They’re school gardens, but they’re not just for kids; they’re for families and the community, too, and such a school/community connection could be very nice. Maybe neighbors (parents and their children?) wouldn’t mind taking a walk or a short ride to the gardens to make sure everything’s shipshape and to pick what’s ripe. Interested? Email Diana Howard at email@example.com. She’s the junior-high biology teacher who oversees the gardens (and uses a lot of produce in her classes, too).
Hudson students’ Discovery Gardens have received assistance from the county’s Farm to School initiative, itself part of the Healthcare Consortium’s Kids in Motion program. Farm to School works to strengthen connections between school students and our local agricultural abundance. Parents, bring your kids. Others, come on, too. Come see the abundance behind Hudson’s Junior High School. It’s really something—and it comes with a gorgeous view!
To contact Virginia Martin, Farm to School consultant for the Kids in Motion program of the Healthcare Consortium, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about the Kids in Motion program go to www.kidsinmotiononline.org