SILVER SRING, Md. — Students at St. Francis International School are getting their hands dirty and having fun as they learn about St. Francis’ call to care for all creation.
A new edible garden, planted this year, will help students be hands-on with Franciscan ideals. The edible garden is a dream come true, said school principal Tobias Harkleroad.
Michael Johnson, OFM, pastor of St. Camillus Church, one of three churches associated with the school, initiated the idea for the garden. An avid gardener, Michael helped teach the students about the planting process.
In April, a small grove of peach, plum, pear, and cherry trees was planted in the school’s center courtyard, along with blueberry and raspberry bushes. In early May, the third-graders planted vegetables in garden frame boxes.
“I kind of like getting dirty,” said Smrithi Thomas, 8, of Silver Spring, who was quoted in a May 25 article in The Gazette.
“A year ago, as we began planning for the new Saint Francis International School, we envisioned a new Garden Education Area that would be a major component of our school’s strategy to create learning experiences that span across many grade levels, are engaging on many levels, and based in real world experiences, and can be used as tools for learning in many different subject areas,” said Harkleroad.
“We hope the Garden Education Area will inspire all of us, as teachers work over the coming years to integrate gardening experiences into the curriculum — from 2-year-olds to eighth-graders,” he said.
“Everything that the third-graders planted is edible, and we look forward to harvesting the strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, beans, and even corn from the garden in the fall after the summer camp kids have had the chance to tend the garden from June to August.”
The school recently received a $2,000 grant towards the purchase and installation of a greenhouse, which is expected to be put up this summer.
The school is raising support for the garden through iLoveSchools.com.
— Wendy Healy is a freelance writer based in Connecticut.