Kids dig gardening

Twelve Bridges Elementary greenhouse a hit
By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Tucked behind the library at Twelve Bridges Elementary School, hundreds of plants grow in a greenhouse as students learn about agriculture by actually sowing seeds and reaping the benefits of their work, according to science teacher Thomas Toy. “The kids see the changes daily,” Toy said. “I think it’s really important that the kids see the changes in that cycle.” The cycle Toy referred to was the complete cycle of planting seeds in the greenhouse, watching them grow, transplanting them to the gardens interspersed throughout the campus and finally harvesting them, when students get to take a plant home. “It’s something to see – 400 students all walking out of here with a plant,” Toy said. The greenhouse opened in 2006, two years after the school’s completion, and was funded with money used to build the school, according to Toy. The actual construction work, Toy said, was largely done by local contractors who donated their time. One of the problems facing school gardens, Toy said, is that they are left alone during the summer, when they need to be tended. That problem, however, is not an issue at Twelve Bridges, as the Sun City Garden Club partners with the school to keep the gardens going. In addition to helping keep the gardens going year-round, the Sun City Garden Club has a core group of about 10 members who come down and help teach the kids about planting and growing, Toy said. “You can’t do a project like this without the support of the community,” Toy said. Fundraising is another facet of the greenhouse, which cost about $10,000 to build, Toy said. April 2, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., 1,800 tomato plants grown by the students will be for sale at the school, Toy said. Other fundraisers include selling seedlings to local businesses such as The Home Depot. This month, students will plant 100 chrysanthemum plants, from which they will later sell 1,000 seedlings, Toy said. As students learn gardening skills and the science of nature, they also work to beautify the campus by planting trees and landscaping during monthly work projects, Toy said. “Plantapolooza” is another event and is scheduled for next month, according to Toy. During Plantapolooza, a week-long celebration of plants, students will learn about herbs and plant 750 basil plants as part of that education. Even when not working in the greenhouse, students are surrounded by plants and flowers in the gardens by every group of classrooms, Toy said. “I like watering them. It’s fun,” said Rosie Hernandez, a third grader who was digging in a planter box March 23 with other kids in her class. What is now just dirt and weeds will soon be an educational garden that teaches kids as it helps make the campus even more attractive.