Wingate Elementary prepares soil for community garden

Wingate Elementary students fill a raised garden bed with dirt, with plans to grow their own vegetables.

Heather Gerson wants to start a food revolution in an adjacent field next to Wingate Elementary.

Gerson’s children attend the school where parents and volunteers from The Cameron Place Community Supported Agriculture were teaching students Wednesday about how to create healthy soil using compost and other organic materials.

Inspired by the hit television show, “Food Revolution” with Jamie Olivers, Gerson contacted Principal Wethington asking for cooperation and help in starting a community garden for the school.

Gerson listed the many reasons she thought it was important for elementary students to learn to grow their own food. Most importantly, “we should just all know where our food is coming from,” she said.

Every grade level was taught about the different kinds of soil, including clay, sand and loam.

Heather Loveland, a CSA farm intern from upstate New York, talked to the students about adding organic matter to the dense Western Colorado soil to make it better for plants to grow in. They discussed the importance of not only what was growing above ground, but also of what the children couldn’t see under the soil such as worms and micro-organisms.

Julia Nelson, another CSA intern from Seattle, led the children in a clever and funny rendition of, “The Poop Song,” to teach them about the life cycle of organic matter.

“Our vision is to be a liaison between the public and the farm and to teach strictly organic techniques,” Nelson said.

Volunteers have built one raised bed so far which the children were encouraged to help fill with “Mesa Magic,” a compost available from the Mesa County landfill. They were told to feel, smell and think about the healthy organisms living inside the soil.

“It had an earthy smell,” one student observed, “and it didn’t feel like clay at all.”

The children called out ideas for growing carrots, watermelon, tomatoes or strawberries in the garden. “Our focus is going to be produce,” the principal said.

“Eventually we’d like to have a raised bed for every grade,” Gerson said. She hoped to see the food used in the cafeteria to provide healthy lunches for the students.

“It’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a lot of work and we’ll need parents help to keep it going during the growing season,” Teresa Keating, a volunteer parent, told the classes.

The project is currently in need of funding support from the community. Alpine Bank has stepped up as the first sponsor.

“We’re all going to have to come together to make this successful,” Keating said.

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RELATED VIDEO: Students sing “The Poop Song”



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