Spring Creek Afterschool Program’s Green Thumb

BY AMANDA MOSES

Every week, students in the Spring Creek Afterschool Program expand their knowledge of environmental science, agriculture, and sustainability through various activities with Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman at the Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC). Until December, students are able to learn outside of the classroom, exploring every corner of the UGC where they can learn scientific concepts through first-hand experiences.

The first few weeks of classes focused on reacquainting students with the garden rules, maintenance, and the basics of garden-ing. As the classes progress from the fall to winter seasons, Roytman has been explaining to students how the change in climate affects the things that grow in the garden. The final harvest of the edible flower nasturtium, herbs like basil, lavender, lemon grass, rosemary, and thyme were plucked by the stu-dents, who each took turns smelling and tasting the plants.

“Closing up the garden is like we are putting the garden to sleep during the winter months,” Roytman said to the students. As the students help clear the garden beds and amend the soil, Roytman showed them how to plant cover crops. A cover crop helps to keep the soil active over the harsh, snowy, and cold winter months so that it remains properly aerated and nutrient enriched. Plants such as Austrian peas help adjust nitrogen levels in the soil, while grass or winter wheat help to revitalize nutrients.

Daffodils are also planted during the fall, not just as a cover crop, but as a sure sign of spring when they blossom in March or April. Before planting daffodil bulbs, Roytman makes sure to read to the students Elizabeth Honey’s “That’s Not a Daffodil.” This story helps students understand that the bulb, which looks like an onion, is actually a beautiful daffodil waiting to be planted.

The bulb’s roots slowly spread out over the course of the winter, and then as the weather becomes warm-er the plant grows until it sprouts out from the ground, and then when it is spring time it blossoms. These daffodils then attract pollinators, which are bees, butterflies, and other insects, which help spread nectar to other plants. This helps fertilize other flowers, creating seeds and fruit in the surrounding community.

Each Spring Creek Afterschool Program class has had the chance to learn about the daffodils, and plant them throughout the UGC. Garden shovels in hand, the children were happy to dig deep into the dirt, see wiggly worms, and plant their daffodil bulbs.

Photo by Amanda Moses