Athena Elementary 04-16-24 - Getting the School Garden Ready!

Spring is here and that means Athena Elementary students are starting to think about their school garden. Each year, students work on planting a variety of seeds and plants in the garden on the school campus.

The garden is supported by a grant from the Sustainable Living Center of Walla Walla/Walla Walla Valley Farm to School program. A gardener works with students once a week throughout the school year teaching lessons in classrooms. Recently, students planted seeds in trays, which are growing under lights inside the school. When the weather is warmer, students spend time in the garden planting and weeding, learning about native plants and ultimately harvesting their bounty. As produce matures, students do taste tests to try new foods and expand their healthy food palates.

According to Kerri Coffman, Principal of Athena Elementary, the best thing about the garden is the chance for students to be outside and get their hands in the dirt while learning. “The garden ties in really well with our spring science kit rotations. Also, children of all different levels and abilities can be successful in our school garden,” Coffman said.

Another recent opportunity at the school for students to learn about plants was provided by agriculture and FFA students from Weston-McEwen High School. The high schoolers taught lessons about agriculture and plants, then led the elementary students in making grass buddies, soil-filled cups with grass hair. Students gave their buddies names and are documenting the growth of the grass each week over 30 days, including when they gave them their first haircut.

Athena Elementary School students will also go on field trips in May to Welcome Table Farm in Walla Walla, where they will see the pigs, taste food, find pollinators and more.

After school is out, the school garden will be maintained by the gardener, YMCA summer camp kids and parent volunteers. Happy growing, Athena Elementary students!