March 7, 2016
It may seem early, but students at the Ann Blanche Smith School in Hillsdale have already been hard at work on their 2016 garden. This week the Smith School Green Team was busy preparing seed trays and putting down their first seeds for their spring vegetable garden. The 4th grade Green Team was assisted by Rutgers trained Bergen County Master Gardeners who gave out pointers on starting and caring for the seeds.
Mrs. Angela Iskenderian, Principal of the school, is ecstatic over the work being done. “The 4th grade Green Team members at Ann Blanche Smith Elementary School are committed to building a sustainable school by exploring how their actions impact the environment.” She went on to say, “ They are doing this through a gardening program that has become a community project with the help of parents, school and community.”
Students at the school are learning about factors that make a garden sustainable as well as being introduced to the science of agriculture and the importance of healthy, local, organic food choices. They are also learning necessary life skills such as responsibility, teamwork, caring and problem solving.
According to 4th grade teachers Francy Lates and Donna Rosenbaum, the 4th grade classes had the date circled on their calendar and been anticipating this planting for weeks.
“The students sketched and wrote in their science journals as they observed the seeds and predicted when they would see the first plants emerge,” said 4th Grade teacher Donna Rosenbaum, “It was an exciting day!”
The Hillsdale Board of Education passed a resolution in early 2015 allowing Smith School to participate in the Sustainable Jersey for Schools Certification Program. The garden project, aided by a grant from Sustainable Jersey as well as donations from Demarest Farms, is in its first year.
The seedlings will eventually be transplanted and transferred to an outdoor Earthbox garden when the danger of frost has passed. This year the students chose to plant tomatoes, herbs, cucumbers, broccoli, lettuce, peas and beans for the 2016 season.
Last fall the Green Team planted over 750 tulip and daffodil bulbs with the help of Bergen County Master Gardeners, Raymond Brothers Landscaping and Demarest Farms. With the sight of tulips and daffodils popping up from that planting, and the smell of fresh dirt on their hands, the Smith School students are happy spring is here!