Growing a Love of Gardening in the Lower School

William Rast
Growing a Love of Gardening in the Lower School
Montverde Academy has many amazing clubs that students can join. One unique club that MVA offers to Lower School students is the Third Grade Garden Club. The Garden Club began a new year of gardening providing students with a unique opportunity for to learn about agriculture through hands-on activities of planting and caring for the gardens. The club’s garden is located behind the Lower School. They currently have plants growing like crazy!
"The Third Grade began the new season of the Garden Club with big plans,” said Mrs. Pat-Kroll Whiffen, Lower School Science teacher. “We started the year excited to remove the summer tarps and ready to pull weeds, rake the old soil and enrich it with new fertilizer. We then planned out what we would grow."
This garden is not strictly for club students, the garden is used as a learning opportunity for all Lower School students. For instance, a Three Sisters garden, which is a garden that consists of beans, corn and squash, was created. This garden was important to create as it partners with fourth grade curriculum and the study of Native Americans. The crops in this garden were essential for the Native Americans and will add an interesting perspective to their studies.
All third-grade students participate in the Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Growing contest. This national contest provides the student who grows the largest cabbage with a $1,000 college scholarship!
The Garden Club, comprised of 20 students, learns about growing plants according to which season is best for those plants to grow. Students have planted things like peppermint, basil, rosemary, potatoes, beans, several varieties of lettuce, peppers, and celery. The students check for insects on a weekly basis, as well as watering and weeding the garden every week.
Their crops have been so plentiful that they took their plants to sell at the Farmer’s Market in the Villages. It was a great opportunity for students to lean about the business side of agriculture.
“I was so pleased with the student’s knowledge of our garden and their interactions with the customers at the marketplace,” said Mrs. Whiffen. “I was also impressed with the sales team and certainly saw a different side of my students! We made $99.00 at the event, which far exceeded what I had expected. This will certainly help with buying supplies and more items for our garden. A number of students also had the opportunity to meet with the gentleman who had the 25-million-year-old rocks - which was an additional treat. It was a great day of learning and experiences. I want to thank everyone who supported and participated in the event to make it so successful.”
The Garden Club is a unique club that provides students with the opportunity to be part of a fascinating club that cultivates a love of gardening. "Students get the hands-on experience of digging, planting, caring and harvesting the crops and get to understand how food gets into our refrigerators and our tables – a true Farm to Table experience."