Elementary Organics

Elementary pron: e-lə-ˈmen-tə-rē, adj. definition:  straightforward or uncomplicated, or relating to an elementary school 

Organics pron: ôrˈganik, adj. definition: simple, healthful and close to nature

Elementary Organics, a straightforward, uncomplicated way to engage first and second graders with a project that is healthful and close to nature.

Sometimes, geography is everything. In 2012 we found a small 20’ x 20’ plot of land that was located on the property of a fire station, behind a food shelf, between an elementary school and a greenhouse. The question that we asked each of these groups was “Do you think there would be value in some kind of project?”

The response from every one of these amazing groups was, “Yes.”

The concept of Elementary Organics is to try and introduce the students of Union Memorial School to as many ideas as possible using a straightforward, simple project. Judy Lilley and Darlene Mulcahy of the UMS Wellness Committee suggested that, given the right preparation, a little gardening might go a long way.

Students from St. Michael’s Outdoor Volunteer Effort along with a few St. Michael’s alumni broke ground in early spring by tilling the grassed parking lot and raking out the sods. Grampa Perkins came by and over the following few weeks turned the entire plot by hand.

Tuberville’s goal was to provide an experience for the students that would get them excited about food, science and the community. We prepared the garden with the help of volunteers and Claussen’s Florist & Greenhouse donated organic fertilizer which we turned into the soil. On planting day, each first grade class came out, we talked about growing food and specifically the potatoes and one at a time, they planted a potato.

Over the summer, Tuberville and the volunteers maintained the potato patch. When the students returned as second graders in the fall, we organized a harvest. As before, each class came out. We talked about community and the role the food shelf plays in the community. Each student was able to harvest three potatoes and together as a class, they put their bounty in a wheelbarrow and followed Grampa Perkins over to the Food Shelf where, as a class they donated their crop.

When all was said and done, the total yield from the 4 rows by the 4 classes the first year was 223 pounds. Although the weight of the potatoes is one way to judge the success of the project, we believe there are many more intangible results that come about when people and groups come together.