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Garden project plants the seeds for health and wellness at Brookside
Brookside Elementary School is making good use of a "Creating Healthy Schools and Communities" grant, supporting projects and activities centered on student and staff health and wellness. And what could be more fundamental to that effort than planting and growing food?
 
As part of the "Ag in the Classroom" studies, Brookside launched a school-wide garden project involving all students PK-5, with guidance and support from the Broome County Health Department and Cornell Cooperative Extension. The CHSC Grant funding will be awarded over a five year period, and Brookside got its hands dirty right out of the box by creating a garden! 

Our Brookside Garden Committee worked closely with Kate Shear and Aimee Chaluisant from CHSC, and Tara Kenyon (SV grad) from Cornell Cooperative Extension to get the garden up and growing. That meant planning, purchasing, delivery and implementation. District staff built new frames for eight garden beds in Brookside's courtyard. Phase one of the grant was used for soil, compost, mulch, fencing, gardening tools, stroage units, gloves, seeds, picnic tables and more. 

In Mrs. Parkison's Kindergarten, students learned how to make "newspaper gardens" to get an early start on planting indoors. In the photos below, students Elliott DiPersiis, Alexis Bensley, Charlie Harford, Sara Kutalek, Chistian Robinson and Charlotte Tokos are pictured during that lesson.
 
Subsequent Ag in the Classroom activities focused on the gardening process; various grow systems, seed germination, composting, nutrition and much more; all student-centered, with an all-hands-on-deck approach, with each grade level responsible for designing, planting and maintaining their own garden beds. Each grade level planted early harvest vegetables or “salad garden” plants, such as lettuces, carrots, radishes, spinach, onions and herbs.  Students harvested these fast growing vegetables to incorporate into “community” salads for everyone to enjoy at our school lunches. Fall harvest vegetables were also planted, such as, potatoes, tomatoes, pumpkins and squash.  With the help of our Garden Committee, the gardens will be maintained throughout the summer so that students can continue to enjoy more gardening experiences in the fall.  By then our gardens should be teaming with sunflowers and other fall harvest plants.  

Picnic tables were added for classes to use for outdoor lunches, snacks or for learning while outdoors.  The vision for the garden is to create an inviting and welcoming space for students and staff to enjoy!
 
On July 14, students and parents gathered at the gardens to enjoy a SUMMER GARDEN PARTY to spend time enjoying some of the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. That morning, students enjoyed painting flower pots, a scavenger hunt, and spent time exploring the gardens. Students learned the difference between weeds and desirable plants, and how to spot animal damage to garden plants. Students also got to harvest radishes, beets, tomatoes, peas, cilantro, dill, basil, lettuce and zucchinis. After weeding, watering and harvesting, the families enjoyed a garden-themed snack together. Another summer garden party is scheduled for August 11.
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Susquehanna Valley Central School District - 1040 Conklin Rd. Conklin, New York 13748 - (607) 775-0170

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