Afterschool Planting at the SCRF’s UGC

dsc_0673By Amanda Moses

The fall season is now here, bringing strong gusts of winds, grey clouds and rainy days. Despite the dreary weather, the Spring Creek Afterschool Program’s students were all smiles within the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC). For the first time this school year, the Afterschool program was able to visit the garden. The children were inquisitive about all of the vegetables and creatures living there.

Garden Educator Jacqui Roytman decided that their first lesson should reinforce the scientific method, which is a procedure that consists of observations, measurements, experimentation, and the development and testing of a hypothesis. “Farmers hypothesize all the time,” Roytman said to the group. “They theorize how well vegetables will grow with a certain amount of soil and how big their vegetables will grow,” she added. Roytman explained to the class that some farmers use their arm to measure how much soil is needed for a plant. Corn, for intance, needs at least 14 inches of soil. Roytman raised her arm up high and said that the length from her shoulder to her hand is about 14 inches.

“We can also hypothesize how many inches our plants will grow. Take these lettuces for example,” Roytman said pointing at several rows of tiny seedlings sprouting leaves in a garden bed. “How many inches do you think the lettuce will grow in one week,” she asked the class. Many of the students shouted one inch, while others said five inches. Roytman asked the students to record their theories, and in one week they will measure the lettuces’ growth.

Measurements and theories weren’t the things the students learned at the UGC. The children learned about the different types of peppers growing in the garden, and some of them even tried green peppers. As an added treat, Roytman gave the students collard greens, banana peppers and black heirloom sweet bell peppers to take home.

dsc_0614Before the students left for the day, Roytman gave them daffodils to plant. These flowers are a part of the New Yorkers for Parks Daffodil Project, which was founded in 2001 as a memorial to September 11th. Students, parks and gardening groups across the city receive free daffodil bulbs to plant within their community. “During the winter the blanket of snow will cover these daffodils, and then in the spring they will spout out from the ground,” Roytman said.

Ten-year-old Christian Santigo had so much fun at the garden. “I got to touch, smell, taste and even plant! I can’t wait to show my parents the vegetables I got from the garden,” he said excitedly. The students were sad when their class finished, but are looking forward to their next lesson at the garden. Photos by Amanda Moses