Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

May 6, 2014

North Jackson Elementary School goes green(house)

Students learn to grow and market plants

GLASGOW — If someone jokingly asks North Jackson Elementary School students who are involved with the school’s greenhouse class how their garden grows, the students would be able to answer the question. And it would be no joke.

North Jackson students have been growing vegetables and flowers from seed in the greenhouse since September. It is a project they take very seriously.

“It’s been fun to see how the plants grow,” said Cory Lee, a fourth-grader, who handled plant sales Monday during an open house for the greenhouse.  

Assisting him was Krista Smith, a fifth-grader, who said she was unaware how many different flowers and plants there really are.

Of all the flowers she and her fellow classmates grew in the greenhouse, the ones that were the most difficult to grow, she said, were Verbena.

“They just grow really slow and they need a lot of care,” she said.

Lee, however, thought the ferns were the most difficult to grow.

“They get really dry and you have to cut the dead (leaves) off of them so they will grow,” he said.

The school’s greenhouse class is offered to students in the first through sixth grades through NJE’s 21st Century Community Learning Center Jag Academy, which is an after-school program.

In the class, the students keep a journal about the plants they are growing, recording all sorts of information from weather conditions to watering schedules.

“We are really proud of what they have done out here,” said Sonya Davis, 21st Century Community Learning Center Jag Academy site coordinator.

The class teaches the students that fruits and vegetables don’t just appear in the grocery store.

“They have to start somewhere,” said Andrea Smith, an instructional assistant with Jag Academy, adding that the greenhouse class does just that; shows the students how their food makes it to the grocery store.

Not all of the plants the students grew in the greenhouse were for sale on Monday. Many of them have been transplanted to a large garden plot nearby.

This summer, students who attend an enrichment camp NJE will sell the vegetables they grow in the garden at the local farmer’s market, the Bounty of the Barrens, according to a press release from Barren County Schools.

There are also plans to grow 5,000 ears of corn on the school’s campus.

CheyAnne Fant, food service director for the Barren County School System, is working with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to procure the corn through the Farm to Work initiative.

Fant would like to serve the corn, along with other locally-grown fruits and vegetables, some of which might come from the students’ garden, as a meal during the school day at some point.  

“Our plan is to raise awareness of the importance of fresh vegetables as part of our daily diets,” she said.

The money the students earn from the sale of the plants is funneled back into the greenhouse class to fund it for the following school year. The students received some help this year from various partners, including Mammoth Cave Transplants and Andy Moore, an agriculture teacher at Barren County High School.

NJE students receive no grade for the work they do in association with the greenhouse, but Smith said she could envision it becoming a gradable exercise.  

North Jackson Elementary School’s greenhouse is open from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day through Friday.

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