The Batesville Intermediate School garden offers a new way to integrate science into the third-grade curriculum, points out principal Dr. Jere Schoettmer. Students experience hands-on learning through growing plants, developing soil and observing nature.
She notes, “The BIS garden will nurture our students’ sense of wonder, curiosity and provide a place of enrichment, relaxation and happiness for all children. The garden will promote an understanding of plants and the role they play in our environment and our daily lives. This, in turn, will encourage students to develop their own personal gardens at home with their families.”
The garden became a reality due to the generosity of the Batesville Community Education Foundation, which awarded a $1,000 grant.
Students began clearing a 72-by-13-foot plot containing debris, sticks and rocks. A raised bed was purchased for each of the seven third-grade classrooms. Students planted lettuce, radishes, kale, spinach, carrots and herbs in anticipation of a late May Garden Salad Party. Students in science classrooms also grew broccoli and cabbage in their Grow Labs to either replant in the garden or harvest and try right in the classroom.
After the salad party, beds were replanted with vegetables that will be cared for over the summer by family volunteers. In August, the upcoming third-graders will continue the care and maintenance of the garden. According to Schoettmer, “In late fall, we will look forward to a fall Vegetable Soup Party from that harvest.” Flowers were also planted around the perimeter of the garden to add some extra color and to beautify this green space.
She adds, “The community and students have been extremely excited and supportive of the implementation of this hands-on experience. We have received many donations to get started, such as hoses, tools, buckets, seeds, decorations, rocks, bird feeders and stepping stones!” Officials at Home Depot, Harrison, Ohio, were also extremely generous and offered the raised garden beds at a discounted cost. The principal says, “We are very thankful for everyone’s support and donations.
“We believe the BIS garden takes learning beyond the classroom walls as students first experience the planting of the seeds, to the harvesting of the vegetables, to lastly enjoying the fruit of their labor. Students will learn firsthand the meaning of perseverance through hard work and dedication to the task. This experience will provide students with lifelong memories.”
The principal anticipates adding a fruit garden of perhaps apple trees and blackberry and raspberry bushes in the future.
She reports, “Coming also is the partnership between BIS and Margaret Mary Health and the Sweet Potato Project for BIS and Batesville Primary School.” The schools, along with MMH dietitian Kathy Cooley, received a grant from the National Farm to School Network to grow sweet potatoes and celebrate National Food Day Oct. 23.