BY AMANDA MOSES
The first harvest of the season is slowly approaching the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC). Garden Educator Jacqui Roytman has been working with several local schools as well as members of the Spring Creek Senior Partners’ Gardening Club to cultivate a wide variety of herbs, vegetables, and fruits at the UGC.
Students from Gateway Intermediate School (IS) 364 were able to taste samples of the UGC’s blossoming strawberry and kale plants. She enlightened the teens with a few interesting facts about fruits grown in the garden: The fruit plucked from the strawberry bushes are sweet and juicy; however, when buying them from a local market it can taste sour. This is due to the transportation and preservation of the fruit. Roytman explained to the class that the strawberries in the UGC were not ready to be picked just yet; they are still quite small. “The strawberries are ready to harvest about four weeks after it first blossoms,” she said. Roytman showed the students how to use garden sheers when collecting leaves or berries, ensuring that there is no damage to the plant. Strawberries are cut by the stem because yanking it directly off can damage different parts of the plant.
“I liked eating the vegetables in the garden and tasting the strawberries was fun,” Seth Leopold said while examining a tiny strawberry in the palm of his hand.
Similarly, Roytman said, kale is ready to be eaten when the leaves are as big as a person’s hands. This plant is packed with lot of vitamins, so it’s important to make sure that when harvesting you only remove a few leaves per plant using gardening sheers. Surprisingly, the students in Ms. Laura Saccomanno’s science class preferred the kale over the strawberries.
After the students sampled some of the items that will be gathered this month, they then made journal entries about their experience and observations. Some students drew a diagram of a weed, describing how this type of plant takes away the water, nutrients and sunlight from the vegetation growing in a garden bed.
“I had so much fun today using a hose to water the plants, drawing the parts of strawberry plant and tasting the kale,” Aliyah Kemper said.
Photos by Amanda Moses