Clary Garden Partnership Teaches Students Life Skills

     Published on 6/1/17   Tagged under:    District News    Academics    Community Service    Clary Middle School   

In partnership with Cornell Master Gardeners, Clary sixth graders have been working on a special project: growing a garden, complete with orchard, beside the school.
There, they have planted lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes… even several trees and bushes that will grow plums, apricots, mulberries and more.
“We’re going to be growing foods that we can use for cooking and stuff,” Corlito Walls said. “I made a garden at my grandma’s house, but we’ve only composted at school. We’ve never had a garden before. It’s fun, because we have something different to do at school and it will help us learn how to be healthy and to learn if we like these foods that we’re growing.”
“We’re planting vegetables and an orchard of fruit trees,” Damian DeVaul added. “It teaches you how to work as a team. There are many different jobs, like digging for the trees, planting, fencing in the garden, watering, trimming. We have to work together to do all of these jobs. It’s a pleasure to work on the garden because not many students get to come out here and work!”
Teacher Stacey Shehadi –Washburn said she came up with the idea for the garden after working with Cornell’s Nutrition Educator for four years at Porter Elementary. Now in her first year at Clary, she realized that the school’s abundant green space would be a great opportunity to plant a complete garden, with the assistance of Cornell Cooperative Extension.
“I’m hoping this will help our students learn lifelong skills beyond just being able to garden,” Ms. Shehadi-Washburn said. “They’re learning about how to work together, how to make healthy choices when it comes to their foods, and how to take care of something. It’s teaching them responsibility and about giving back to the community.”
Tending to the garden is an incentive – students must earn the ability to oversee the garden’s watering each day, as well as to participate in the biweekly visits from the Cornell Master Gardeners.  Ms. Shehadi-Washburn said she will continue tending the garden with summer school students and hopes that students can cycle through caring for the space year-round. Eventually, she hopes to expand its reach to the community, providing the students with the ability to bake with items from the garden or directly sell the goods in a farmer’s market type setting.
Thank you to the many community partners who have assisted in this effort, including Cornell Cooperative Extension, Cornell’s Master Gardeners and OCRRA, which donated the mulch. Keep up the great work, Clary!