A lesson plan you can eat

VCS students enjoying garden project


As part of a garden project for kindergarten through fifth grade, students at Viera Charter School have planted a variety of plants, including carrots, radishes, strawberries and flowers. Here, students in AnnMarie LeBeau’s kindergarten class tend to their flower bed. Photo by Carl Kotala

The kindergarteners in AnnMarie LeBeau’s class at Viera Charter School are out in full force.

Some have watering cans. Others have a bottle of Miracle-Gro or gardening tools they use to pull out weeds.

It’s all part of a garden project the school has set up for children from kindergarten through fifth grade with a little help from the Viera Company.

The students have planted carrots and radishes, strawberries and lettuce. Even watermelon and flowers. And the best part is, they’re taking care of it themselves, learning about cooperation and working together as a team.

“They’re enjoying it because it’s hands-on learning,” LeBeau said. “Using the science curriculum, they’re learning about the life cycle of plants, how to take care of plants, what plants need. Then they get to see the end results a couple of months down the road when everything starts to bloom.

“Whenever they’re actively involved, that’s when they learn the most.”

Each class has its own flower bed and the students each have their own jobs, whether it be watering, fertilizing or maintenance. They wear gloves at all times.

In addition to providing some advice, the Viera Company provided seeds for the lettuce and the radishes.

“They told us the best way to lay it out, how much fertilizer to give it. They Miracle-Gro it once a week, water it three times a week,” Viera Charter assistant principal Thomas Armstrong said. “Having that communication with the Duda Ranch was key in getting the kids started. The kids do all the work.”

Madison Hirsche, a first grader at Viera Charter School, got to plant a flower in her class’s flower bed. She said the project is fun.

“I like that there’s lots of flowers and there’s stuff growing,” she said.

Madison’s mother, Lauren, not only likes the project, she has also seen it already have an effect on her daughter outside the classroom.

“They get to see how they grow and how long it takes,” Lauren Hirsche said. “She’s taken that at home, so we’ve planted a lot of vegetables at home, too. She really enjoys it.”

While this is the first year of the project, the school plans to make it an ongoing learning experience for the students.

After all, not only do the children get to learn a lot of valuable lessons, they can also get a nutritious snack out of it, too.

“The big reward will be in April when things start growing,” Armstrong said. “We’re hoping by the end of April we can pull a few carrots out, some radishes out and maybe a head or two of lettuce. We’re definitely hoping for a few strawberries.”