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kid reporter alexandra zhang gardening Kid Reporter Alexandra Zhang plants the first broccoli at the Cesar Chavez Elementary School garden in Hyattsville, Marlyand, for Earth Day 2010. (Photo courtesy Alexandra Zhang)

Gardening for Science Class

Elementary school uses garden plot to educate

By Alexandra Zhang | null null , null

Building, planting, digging, and composting! All were part of the Cesar Chavez Elementary School's Go Green event for the 40th anniversary of the Earth Day.

In this busy town of Hyattsville, Maryland, just north of Washington, D.C., more than 40 people spent a recent Sunday afternoon building a garden. It was a joint effort by the elementary school and the Earth Day Network.

"To me, going green is creating a sustainable world," said Sean Miller, Education Director at the Earth Day Network. "It means bringing your community together to help bring about sustainable change, and anyone can join in the process of really creating a better world."

Sustainable means being able to feed and fuel the world without depleting, or using up, the Earth's resources. For Cesar Chavez Elementary, it means growing food from an unused piece of land.

"It used to be just a glop of mud," said Miller as he stood on an empty field behind the school building. "Now we've turned it into a garden, and we're going to plant vegetables and grow fruit on the trees."

Volunteers helping prepare the soil and plant the garden included Earth Day Network members, teachers, parents, and students.

"Isn't it a perfect day for gardening and enjoying nature," said one parent taking a break in the shade.

Participants split into groups. Some planted bushes, while others dug holes. Some built compost mixers, and others pushed wheel barrels full of mulch.

It was a scene filled with excitement. Grown-ups eagerly helped kids from kindergarten to the 6th grade. You could hear delighted laughter and intense conversations all around the schoolyard as the participants worked together to learn how to build a garden.

One group making compost mixers had their noses in a instruction book for some time. The mixer looked like a trash can with a turner and handle to mix organic garbage like apple cores, banana peels, egg shells, and coffee grounds. Ultimately the mix turns into a rich, healthy soil!

In another section, people dug holes for fruit trees, their shovels banging on the hard ground. The holes had to be just right for the trees to grow straight and tall.

Nearby, several girls and their moms planted bushes as they kneeled on the ground and put fresh soil on top.

"I think that the buds are going to sprout into flowers," said Diana, a 6th grader.

A group of boys pushing wheelbarrows from the mulch pile to the planting area, had beads of sweat glistening on their determined, excited faces. Asked why they wanted to participate in this event, the boys declared that it was fun and important to help the Earth.

The new garden is not just about living green—it is also part of the school's science and math curriculum.

With 22 vegetable boxes and six fruit trees, all the classes at Cesar Chavez will be assigned to take care of the plants. By harvest time, students will be able to pick and eat fresh vegetables and fruits from a garden that showcases their commitment to healthy food choices and sustainable living!

That commitment for many may well have begun on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, when a school community transformed a muddy lot into a magnificent quarter-acre garden.    


Celebrate 40 years of Earth Day and the fight to keep our planet clean on April 22. Scholastic Kid Reporters explore ways to make every day Earth Day in the Earth Day @ 40 Special Report.


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