The dense humidity and continuous rainstorms may not be comfortable weather conditions for New Yorkers, but the plants at Spring Creek Recreational Fund’s (SCRF) Urban Garden Classroom (UGC) thrive under these settings (as long as there is a bit of sunshine too). The sweet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, calloo, and even the yellow marigolds are full and lush within their garden beds.
Garden Educator, Jacqui Roytman was happy to start off her fall lessons with PS 346’s students with such an amazing harvest. Roytman reacquainted the children with the garden rules, which are simply to respect all living things (including the bugs) that live in the garden, no running, and no harvesting vegetables without permission. She reminded the children that the garden is not just a beautiful place to learn about environmental sciences and work on activities, but it needs to be tended to with simple garden maintenance.
Roytman created a garden station in the middle of the UGC, where the children could grab shovels to help remove weeds and rakes to amend the soil and help spread the woodchips. To make this process fun, Roytman split the students into three groups, one group weeded within the garden beds, another group helped spread the wood chips, and the others pruned the plants. “The students learned that pruning plants does not hinder them, but rather it helps them grow,” Roytman said.
After helping to maintain the garden, the students were asked to participate in a scavenger hunt. As the students explored every nook and cranny in the garden, they gasped and shouted in amazement when they saw the blossoming flowers and the multicolored lady bugs crawling on the plants and in the garden beds. “There are also insects that look like lady bugs, but are actually called Harlequin cabbage bugs, and they are pests that eat away at the cabbages, collard greens, and kale,” Roytman said.
Towards the end of class, Roytman rang a cow bell so that the students would stop participating in the activity, return all of the tools to the garden shed, and then clean up.
For the students at PS 346, the UGC is a magical place where they are able to explore and use their imagination during fun activities, like the scavenger hunt.
Photos by Jacqui Roytman