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Thu, Feb. 20

Miss Bean's green things<BR>PC student plants seeds of knowledge at Mountain Oaks Charter School

PRESCOTT – A song floats from Sarah Walker's classroom window at Mountain Oaks Charter School.

"Inch by inch, row by row, we're going to make this garden grow," the 15 second-and third-graders sing. "All you need is a rake and a hoe and a piece of fertile ground."

Their parents and friends, who have joined them for a spring tea, applaud the song as well as the poems and skits that follow.

They make their way down to the courtyard, and the students proudly give their guests tours of the new garden they planned and planted with Jessica Bean's help.

Bean developed and implemented the garden curriculum at Mountain Oak as part of her senior project at Prescott College.

"It's been a great program for my students, because it helps them understand practical things," said Walker. "It's a really valuable lesson for them that they can start with nothing and get a wonderful garden."

According to Bean, the project's goal is to connect children to their food so they understand where it comes from.

"Gardening ties our ecological and cultural landscapes together and is something easy that kids can do," she said.

Students voted on what to plant, choosing carrots, eggplant, potatoes, peas, strawberries, marigolds, various herbs and more. On a classroom chart, they keep track of their chores, when crops sprout and what bugs they see.

The spring tea party gave students the chance to show their parents and friends around the garden and share some of its bounty.

"We made mint jelly, out of mint leaves, that we'll put on bread," said third-grader Adam Tucker. They also made sun tea from various herbs.

Students had a hard time deciding what they enjoyed most about the garden project.

"I liked the whole thing and getting muddy," said third-grader Michelle Maxwell.

"I liked getting messy and planting the strawberries," said third-grader Patrick Davis.

For Bean, the experience was very rewarding.

"These students have such incredible enthusiasm and energy," she said. "They're learning so much so fast. I've grown a lot as a classroom teacher by working with this age group."

Walker maintained the garden would continue to be a class project.

"We were so lucky to have Miss Bean work with us," she said.

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