Grant helps Waggoner students learn to use ‘green thumbs'

January 31, 2001|By KELLY RAUSCH, Staff Writer

IMPERIAL — Some kids just don't want to stop playing in the dirt no matter how old they get.

For sixth-graders at T.L. Waggoner Elementary School, playing in the dirt has become a daily educational activity as they transform 15,000 square feet outside their classrooms into a community garden.

Starting with a $1,000 grant from the California Department of Education, the students and their teachers have used donated materials to construct garden beds, worm bins and a compost pile.

"We want the community excited about what we're doing to help our environment," said sixth-grade teacher Amy Brinnon.

The vegetable garden, in which students grow jalepeños, bell peppers, onions, radishes, cucumbers and garlic, will supply the school's cafeteria with fresh vegetables for the salad bar.


"The idea is that if the students grow it themselves, they'll be more likely to try it," said sixth-grade teacher Kathy Abubo.

Also soon to appear in the cafeteria will be several different trash cans so students can separate and recycle their lunchtime waste. The non-animal food scraps will become food for the garden's worms. Shredded paper from the school's office will go into the worm bins, too.

Students will use the fertilizer generated by the worms to create nutrient-rich soil for the garden.

"It don't smell too good so plug your nose," said Nathan Rock, 11, as he showed off the compost pile.

The heap of grass clippings from the school's grounds and food scraps, may be smelly now but will one day be invaluable to the garden.

"Sooner or later it's going to be soil, good soil," said Daniel Rivera, 11.

Some students don't even realize they're learning as they work in the garden.

"I like it because it's fun," said Brock Moore, 12.

"It gets us out of doing work," Brock said.

When told the garden is actually a chance to learn about science and the environment, Brock amends his statement.

"It's fun work," he said.

Using donated materials has not only involved the community in the garden's construction, the savings make the project possible.

"It has virtually cost us nothing," Brinnon said.

Using gravel from Ryerson and lumber from the Imperial Irrigation District, students, their parents and members of a woodshop class and Imperial High School teamed to make the garden beds and bins.

The work isn't done yet, however. Abubo and Brinnon are seeking input from the community about how best to use the rest of the land, which is now covered with grass.

Rock, cactus and water gardens are just a few of the ideas being tossed around A community meeting to discuss the garden is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Waggoner cafeteria. Anyone interested is invited to attend.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles