Back to School: Local school gardens help kids

By  | 

HATLEY, Wis. (WSAW) There are several school gardens in the Marathon County area and it could be helping your kids more than you think. The National Gardening Association found that school gardens will help students eat more fruits and vegetables and improve their social skills by working with others.

The Hatley Elementary School and Community Garden has expanded over past couple of years and more recently the school received a grant to purchase a green house helping kids like Caleb Breyton even more.

"I like to pull weeds and I like to pick the plants," said Caleb Breyton in the garden.

The fifth grader works hard as he gets his knees and hands dirty while picking green beans and other veggies. Caleb not only likes to garden, but enjoys eating the growing plants too. Since being in the garden he says he has eaten more veggies and found a new produce he loves, which is kale.

The 4th graders start by growing seeds in the green house and then in June students will move what they've grown into the garden. All grades K-5 will work with the produce. It's something Fischer says helps them learn even more than staying in the classroom.

"When you can plant something from a seed and you can see it from little plant to a producing plant that is more valuable than a picture in a textbook showing you the life cycle of a bean plant," said Fischer.

The teacher believes that especially in a state with many agriculture workers, it's important to teach the students where their food comes from.

"I want kids to know that tomatoes don't come from a little container in Walmart," Fischer said. "I think it comes from my passion to get kids actively involved in their education and when you can do that you make those learning experiences more memorable and more valuable for them," she continues.

According to the National Gardening Association, school gardens help reduce childhood obesity and give students more confidence. They've also found that kids who garden have a greater appreciation for nature and agriculture as adults.

"I think that every elementary school should have a garden," exclaimed Caleb.

The school grows things from kale, to peppers, to strawberries, apple trees, squash, green beans pumpkins and more. Over the summer, community members have been taking care of the garden.