Growing interest in gardening at Slatington Elementary
LINDA KOEHLER/TIMES NEWS Advisor Mrs. Sue Mendes and some members of the third and fourth grades students of the Garden and Environmental Club at Slatington Elementary School take time to show a visitor their greenhouse in the school's courtyard where they recently planted potatoes from the eyes of the potatoes. Now they can watch their plants grow, transplant them and harvest them.
Something's growing at Slatington Elementary School. Besides tomatoes and cucumbers, there is a growing interest in gardening and the environment, thanks to the Garden and Environmental Club. They have grown to 60 members.
Once a month, the Club meets after school. There is a day for third and fourth graders and one for fifth and sixth graders.
The club was started by Sue Mendes four years ago for third through sixth grades but the club grew so much, she divided it into two groups.
"The Garden Club is for third and fourth graders and the Environmental Club is for the fifth and sixth graders," says Sue.
With the help of a committee and other staff members, through donations, the club obtained a 6 x 8 foot greenhouse that they erected in the school's courtyard. The greenhouse gives the students a place to grow potatoes from an eye of a potato and learn how to transplant.
The committee also brought in outdoor furniture to give it a garden atmosphere.
The third and fourth graders made up potted butterfly gardens and in the warm months, those gardens bring color and greenery to the courtyard and the school.
"It gives the students an opportunity to learn about nature and the environment, which they might not otherwise have the opportunity. The students will be learning about hydroponic gardening and I want to introduce them to carnivorous plants like the Venus Flytrap," says Sue.
Fourth grader Kaitlin Hoffman says that the club is fun and that Mrs. Mendes does a very good job of teaching.
"We've learned valuable things about garden and we get to have fun with our friends after school," Kaitlin says.
Noah Smith, a third grader, says that he's learned about different kinds of plants.
Franki DiBilio, a third grader, says "It's fun. We learned how to plant herbs and what stuff smells and tastes like."
"We learn a lot about plants and how they grow and how to transplant," says Jaclyn Hollenbach, a third grader.
"We got to taste homemade salsa," says fourth-grader Logan Clifton.
The previous year the club raised tomatoes and cucumbers.
"At the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, I made salsa out of the tomatoes and used fresh mint in the iced tea so they could see and taste the fruits of their labors," says Mrs. Mendes.
"I liked that we got to take potted plants home. We planted sweet potatoes and potatoes and we do word searches," says fourth-grader Paige Hemingway.
Mrs. Mendes is thrilled with the response the Garden and Environmental Club gets from the students. She believes it's a nice opportunity for educational growth that also tastes good, looks pretty and provides great hands-on experience.