They are raising more than scholars at Spann Elementary in Jackson. If you drive Ridgewood Road, past Spann, you've probably already seen the garden out in front of the school. In it, students can readily apply lessons learned from books, and also in it, the community is finding common ground for supporting the school.
One student said, "If they die we, don't have any more food to eat so we need this."
There you have in a quick summery statement, why gardens are so important. From them comes food. And before this 10,000 square foot undertaking in front of their school, many of the K through 5th graders at Spann Elementary knew food came from the grocery store and got there from somewhere, but were a little fuzzy on exactly where. Now they know it grows. And they also know they can grow it. Elizabeth Keller came up with the idea for the garden. And that's just one idea she has about the community jumping in and helping our schools.
"I feel like one of the important things that we need to do in Jackson is get the public back involved in public schools," said Keller. "That if you choose not to put your children in public school for whatever reason, that doesn't mean you have to walk away entirely. So you can still be engaged. And we have neighbors now who are coming back to the school, reading in classrooms, volunteering in the garden."
Elizabeth has started the Camp Wisdom Foundation, sort of a clearinghouse for public school volunteerism. The garden grew as a way to give students some sort of hands-on application of the lessons they were learning from their books.
Keller says, "If you look at the curriculum for science for kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade, really all of elementary school, it begins with plants and seeds and botany, insects, worms, soil, weather."
Spann principal Nichole Menotti says learning from the garden doesn't stop with the students.
"Like that it provides them with things to do. It gives them an experience that they wouldn't have otherwise. And also, I've learned a lot myself. There's a lot I didn't…well, I really don't know anything about gardening," said Menotti.
The garden at Spann is something the students have taken a great deal of ownership in, and understand the relationship of work to results, and also understand the necessity of patience, to wait on a harvest, and that to have a harvest you must plant seed first. Life lessons taking root early on, taught from a hundred by hundred foot garden patch out in front of their school.
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