Stephen R. Borel, Glaser, Jeanne, Brashier, Miles J.
Pointe Coupee 4-H has partnered with Valverda Elementary School in Maringouin, LA to create its very own school vegetable garden.
This semi-organic, handicapped accessible garden is cared for by over 400 Valverda elementary students from grades K through 6th. The 4-H garden project is going strong as it passes the midway mark of its second year.
On Thursday, January 8, 2009, a harvest day took place under the guidance of Principal Major Swindler, 22 participating Valverda teachers, County Agent Miles Brashier, Associate County Agent Steve Borel and a number of LSU AgCenter faculty members.
Valverda students harvested bags of broccoli, cauliflower, green onions and lettuce that they had planted and cultivated. The students spent time tasting various vegetables and were each able to bring their finished products home.
The goal of the garden is to promote responsibility and learning outside of the classroom. Mrs. Jo Ann Hebert explains, "The garden classroom has provided Valverda students with hands on activities that deepen their understanding of lessons taught in our regular classrooms. Every grade level participates in a different area of the garden.
Our ideas for the garden are enriched by our Schlechty Working on the Work conferences. These workshops help us to create better lessons for our students."
The students are solely responsible for planting, watering and weeding their garden plants. In this alternative classroom students are able to utilize math through counting and measuring, language art skills through record keeping, English skills through journaling and science through experimentation.
The students also learn character development by being responsible, trustworthy, respectful and nurturing. Valuable lessons are learned as the students have fun growing their garden. The students are also more willing to try these healthy foods because they put their time and effort into producing them.
In the coming month, students will participate in replanting the school garden. The spring garden will consist of bulb onions, potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplants and cucumbers.
The Valverda 4-H garden project has been met with such success that there are plans for expansion in the future. The proposed expansion will include a wetlands section that will be instrumental in teaching students the importance of our state’s coastal environment.
Congratulations to Valverda Elementary and Pointe Coupee 4-H for making learning fun. The community supports your innovative efforts.