St. Mary's Garden
The list of Organic Gardens Grows
As part of our effort to plant ten organic gardens throughout the community in a year, St. Mary’s and All Angels Christian School, which is the school Savannah attended, partnered with Savannah’s Organic Ranch (SOR) for the third Savannah’s Organic Garden planting. In fact, spearheaded by Tina Garcia, Savannah’s kindergarten teacher and Assistant Principal at St. Mary’s, the planting was only one part of the joint project that supported an annual “Farm Unit” curriculum studied by the kindergarten class each year.
The day began with a presentation to the entire kindergarten class by Patricia Burkhardt, an Orange County Master Gardener. The Master Gardener Association is made up of volunteers who must take courses and become certified in various gardening fields, and whose mission is to educate and support the public in all their gardening efforts. They have graciously provided support and resources to SOR as we ramp up our gardens, and are hoping to partner with us to reach our garden goals. With her perky smile and her green gardening vest, Patty engaged the children with an age-appropriate discussion of the benefits of organic foods and gardening, good bugs vs. bad bugs, and even touched on water conservation. The children had lively comments and questions, and Patty even brought some children’s books with a gardening theme and coloring pages as leave-behinds.
Next, each class was brought outside to plant several “crops” in their very own containers. Due to some future construction projects, the initial planting of this garden was in containers in a temporary location, but because SOR is committed to the continuation and preservation of the gardens it plants, we will be working with the administration to find a permanent location for the garden, which will also be commemorated with a bench and a plaque, as we hope all the gardens will. This garden was started with the children planting green beans and radishes from seed, and lettuces from young plants. Patty, and SOR will be returning in several weeks to check on the progress of the garden, and provide any necessary support. Finally, at the end of the year, we will return a final time, to help the children put their garden “to bed” for the summer, and prepare the soil for autumn’s crops.
As mentioned, this planting was only one part of the partnership that took place during this curriculum unit. Philanthropy is something that is strongly encouraged by St. Mary’s, and each grade performs a service learning project each year. This year, finishing out their farm unit and wearing organic t-shirts provided by Savannah’s Organic Ranch, the kindergarteners measured and packaged organic carrot seeds, which they then, along with parent volunteers, set out at a table and gave away for donations toward Savannah’s Ranch, in order to further her dream. This was done on Thursday, May 1st, in conjunction with another awesome school-wide charity event done in honor of Savannah. Sunday, May 4th was the annual PCRF (Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation) Run/Walk to raise money to go directly toward the research of pediatric cancer only. They had honored Savannah for two years in a row by selecting her designs for the Holiday cards they print every year and sell nationally, and Savannah’s Organic Ranch stands beside PCRF in their fight. St. Mary’s went a step further, and organized a team of volunteers and participants under the team name “Savannah’s Angels.”(See story) To remind and encourage students and their families of this event, May 1st was designated “Hats On Day.” In honor of the children who need to wear hats due to the hair loss they experience during their cancer treatment, all the children were allowed to wear hats on this day. They wore baseball hats, cowboy hats, hamburger hats…you name it, they wore it. One girl, who had never met Savannah, decorated her own “Savannah’s Organic Ranch” hat! The kindergarten students came around to all the classes with hats to collect donations from teachers, students and parents during drop-off, and collected over $1,400 for the PCRF in Savannah’s name! Wow!
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