Kids and gardens go together like peas and carrots – or in this case, peas and trellises.

On a sunny morning in the garden, curious fourth graders were tasked with working together to measure and place pea trellises using only a ruler and string.

Each time an experiment failed, they came back with an even stronger strategy. With a little trial and error, they discovered they could wrap the string around the trellis, marking where it began and ended. They could then measure the distance between those two points. 

“You can accomplish a lot with just a few people when you all work as a team,” said one budding scientist.

The best part is that these determined students accomplished all this without the help of their teacher. They relied instead on lessons they had learned in class and cooperation they practiced in the garden! 
 
You are the trellis to our peas; we need your help today! 
Please add Schoolyard Roots to your gifting list this Christmas.

We spent the past few weeks harvesting our delicious veggies. This includes weighing and pricing them for farm stands, “just like they do at Yogurt Mountain!” 

You’re in an unfamiliar place. None of the words spoken around you make any sense at all. For you, this is a nightmare, or the start of a science fiction film. 
 
For five-year-old Olivia, this is her first day at a Tuscaloosa school. Trying to communicate with her teachers and classmates is frustrating. She has trouble making friends. She can’t understand the lessons.
 

Olivia, like any of us would, becomes quickly overwhelmed, breaks down in the classroom, and feels helpless. 

Her teacher takes her somewhere special: The Garden. 

One of our staff, equipped with some basic Spanish, introduces Olivia to gardening. 

It immediately helps our tiny gardener relax. The soil helps ground her, and the repetition takes her mind off the stress of feeling lost in her own classroom. 
It isn’t until she gets to watering, though, that Olivia really comes into her own. When she sees the droplets trickle from the watering can, her eyes light up. She wants to water everything, whether it’s part of the garden or not. She keeps refilling her little watering can all by herself. 
 
By the end she is smiling and happily chatting to the plants and her teacher, anxiety forgotten. 
There’s still a long road ahead, but the garden was the first step. And Olivia is on her way. 

Special moments like these are what you make possible.

 
You’re the watering can. You’re the soil. You’re Olivia’s sunshine.
 
Please consider donating today.
 
[The student’s details in this story are changed for privacy sake, but the story, and the impact of your support are 100% real home-grown goodness.]

“Worms look like a very long french fry!”

“It has a fruit that is an apple shape but tastes like an orange so you can prank your friends” – 3rd Grade, UPES

 

In a 2nd grade class at Verner Elementary, there was one girl who absolutely did not want to touch the worms during the lesson. But then at the very end, she whispered to our staff, asking if she could hold one. We gently placed one in her palm.

 Unlike the worm, our curious gardener didn’t squirm at all. Her eyes lit up. She let it wiggle around for a minute.

Then she asked, “Can I bring it home? I want to play with it at my house!” 

 

“You have to be very gentle when you hold the plants, so you don’t hurt them!” – 3rd grade student, Central Elementary

Dirty, smelly, rotten food. Sounds repellent, right? 

Not to these students. It might be hard to believe that kids love to compost, but this Crestmont class can’t get enough of it.  Ms. Parker’s 5th Grade students have learned that if they have a leftover snack, it can go right in the compost bin!  

In fact, many of them have even been inspired to start composting at their own homes.

No word yet on how their parents feel about having rotting organic matter around the property, but we’re certain our students will convince them that composting has some great benefits!

A few of our younger gardeners get a bit nervous around some of the insects in the garden, even the more helpful ones.

This week one boy said he was going to smack a particularly persistent wasp with his clipboard.

One of our staff made a last-ditch attempt to come to the rescue of the insect. “No, that’s Samuel, he’s my friend!”

The boy hesitated and replied, “How do you know him?”

After that, it was an all-out competition to name every single wasp in the garden–they also found Samuel Jr. and Marie. Looks like they’re slowly warming up to the garden insects!

You can support our pollinators such as Samuel Wasp and his family by donating today!

“The soil was so soft! I want to eat it! Just kidding. If I ate it I would be a caterpillar!”

-1st Grade, Verner

 

Kids love to take stuff apart to learn how it works, and seeds are no exception. At the beginning of each year, our third-grade students at Verner Elementary open up lima bean seeds to see all the tiny plant parts living inside.

One concerned student though, wondered aloud if the assignment hurt his status as a real gardener. “Aren’t gardeners supposed to be helping plants grow?”

He went on to explain that they shouldn’t be killing the plants they were supposed to be raising and nurturing.

This little scientist already intuitively understood the connection between the tiny seed in the classroom and the actual living things in our garden!