Belmar Elementary School’s Giving Garden celebrated a successful growing season with a garden party on September 13. The “thanksgiving” event honored the talents, time and dedication of the many students, parents, community members and staff that created the school’s inviting, productive garden and allowed students and parents to literally “taste” the fruits of their labor.
Rochelle Ritacco, parent and garden coordinator called it “an opportunity to relive the amazing journey and to share some delicious and healthy food.”
The garden has given students an understanding of the importance of eating more fresh and healthy produce, the fundamentals of agriculture and sustainability, as well as team building. As the tomatoes, beans, squash, potatoes and herbs grew from seeds planted by the students, classmates have seen the vines creeping up to the sky and bursting with life. Children also made stepping stones and painted a mural.
The rebirth of the school garden was envisioned during the school’s strategic planning process that began in 2012. An NJPHK mini-grant to the Monmouth County Health Department aided in underwriting the cost of garden beds, soil, tools, and seeds. The goal for the Health Department’s Action for Fitness program is to increase nutrition education and healthy food choices in school and to increase physical activity to reduce and prevent pediatric obesity.
With continued interest and support, the Giving Garden plans to engage students and provide educational benefits well into the future. Says Lisa Hannah, Principal and Director of Curriculum, “The Giving Garden has incredible potential to serve as a unique model for hands-on learning here at Belmar Elementary School. We hope that the garden fosters an ongoing sense of community, and that with continued attention, the long-term sustainability of the garden is successful.”SHARE: