For the past few years, Batesville Primary School students and staff have been growing produce and learning about the farm to school connection. Now they are hoping community members can offer more ideas of how to improve and continue to grow the venture.
Currently, there is “only one (garden) bed and the composter,” reports principal Heather Haunert. “We do have benches out there that were donated, and Jonathan Kunkel is building a garden shed for his Eagle Scout project.”
Second-grade teacher Vicki Heil adds, “We mainly try to grow things for food the kids will try, different types of lettuce, carrots and tomatoes, kale and Swiss chard and some different greens ..... We’ve grown things to make salsa. We’ve done sweet potatoes, herbs and flowers.
“It’s multifaceted. With the flowers, it’s neat to show the process of insects. We’ve talked about annuals and perennials. We’ve grown lavender and hope to make lavender soap. We’ve done birdhouse gourds and took the kids through the entire process. We worked with art teacher Grace Kontur, who helped us paint and seal them. It was a team effort, and now we have about a dozen birdhouses we hope to hang in our garden in the spring.”
The school received a $2,000 John W. Hillenbrand Vision Grant. With this, the educators hope to add to what is already being done. The principal says they have explored various options. “We’ve looked into a hoop house that you put over your garden beds to extend the growing season .... We’ve gone to Michaela Farm, Oldenburg, and contacted the Purdue extension office, and we are looking for community members to share their expertise.”
Heil recalls when grandparents visited the school. “They told me when you have certain things planted next to each other, they’ll never grow.” When Haunert said they were having trouble growing irises, they told her the flowers were buried too deep, so they won’t grow.