Student gardens grow with hands-on learning

June 16, 2011 // 0 Comments

                            After two hot weeks of removing sod one shovel at a time, spreading nine yards of mulch, and planting approximately 200 native species of plants, the East Rockford Middle School Earth Keepers (EK) students have a completed garden. For the two weeks the EK students have been diligently removing sod from an area on the west side of the building near the entrance. “We only hit and broke through one irrigation pipe. Good thing the owner of Splash has his daughter in our room!” said teacher Barb Altizer. The garden, along with the making of 13 rain barrels, is the culminating activity for the students after learning about storm water, watersheds and the importance of using native plants in landscapes and gardens. After spreading nine yards of mulch on the last day of school, the kids were able to begin planting the native plants provided by Nate Haan from Calvin College. “We also had help from our ‘community partners’ Mike Bruggink of Fenview Landscape Design and Amy Heilman of River City Wild Ones. In the future we hope to split plants and collect seeds to share and plant another garden,” Altizar stated. Funding for this project was provided through a grant from GROUNDSWELL, an organization that promotes service learning and place-based education. “We are very proud of our Earth Keepers kids,” said Altizer. “They worked very hard. According to our partners, some of the plants will grow to be chest high by the fall. We can’t wait!”