GLIDE — Vegetables, fruits and herbs continue to grow at the Glide Elementary School Paw Patch with the help of dedicated volunteers and students.
Every Monday, community members are invited to help work in the garden from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. This week, 10 children helped paint signs, tie up tomato plants, harvest basil, cut garlic and create rock sculptures.
Incoming kindergarteners Grant Buffington and Addison Olson particularly enjoyed harvesting the basil.
“My mom makes pizza with it,” Addison said.
There is a dedicated spot for pizza toppings in the garden in planter boxes shaped like pizza slices, where students grew artichokes and garlic.
“I enjoy the enthusiasm elementary school kids bring to the garden,” volunteer Don Morrison said. “The ones that come here have an affinity for gardening.
Morrison and Jerry Medlar work as volunteers in the garden throughout the school year.
Each classroom also had a dedicated raised planter box. Josiah Long, 12, and Hannah Long, 14, worked on painting signs for the new teachers at the school on Monday.
Josiah and Hannah used to attend the elementary school and were asked to come back to help in the garden this week by their mother Kelli Long, a fifth-grade teacher at the school. They both agreed that helping younger children learn about gardening is the best part of helping at the Paw Patch.
The garden was started nine years ago by Mary Brown who made it her mission to create a place of hands-on learning where children could learn stewardship, healthy habits and connect to the community.
“(Brown) is the driving force,” Kelly Long said. “This is where her heart is.”
Glide Elementary School serves fruits and vegetables from the garden to students at lunch once a week. Brown said she makes sure that most of the fruits and vegetables from the Paw Patch can be harvested during the school year.
During the school year, students get the chance to work in the garden twice a week during lunch recess. Morrison said helpers are made up of 30 to 40 students from kindergarten through second grade, 10 to 15 third and fourth graders and just a handful of fifth and sixth graders.
Throughout the year there are contests to engage students in creating recipes with seasonal harvests, math and science.
There is also a giant pumpkin contest each year for students. Last year’s winning pumpkin, which belonged to a second-grader, provided seeds for the pumpkin plant that was planted in the garden.
The school also has an orchard with apples and pears, watched over by students and volunteers.
Partners of the Paw Patch committee oversees the program and helps with grant writing for the garden. Funding for the garden comes mostly through grants, but they also receive donations and hold plant sales.
The committee is currently working on raising more funds to put in a passive solar greenhouse.