The Bridge Valley Elementary School cold-crop vegetable and herb garden has been growing since 2006 – thanks to the support of teachers, parent-volunteer garden buddies, local business donations, and the green thumb of John Yerkes at None Such Farm.
Thirteen years ago, the Home and School Landscape Committee had a plan to teach the children where their food comes from. With a “green thumbs up” from Dr. Nadine Garvin, Bridge Valley principal in 2006, the committee began to build a gardening program featuring authentic learning. The children plant, maintain and harvest their food.
The landscape committee envisioned the cold-frame vegetable plots with marigolds planted at the ends to add color while keeping pests and animals away. The parents converted a stretch of grass adjacent to the academic wing and created eight plots of tilled soil that could house cold-temperature vegetables (i.e. lettuce, kale, turnips, spinach, Swiss chard, radishes, and kohlrabi) along with many herbs and flowers.
The endeavor requires sustained effort. Planting begins in March, so beds are covered when temperatures fall below 40 degrees. Classes take turns watering and weeding the beds. As days become warmer, vegetables are picked. All of the vegetables and herbs are used by students and teachers and are also donated to local food pantries.
Each year since 2006, the garden program has grown. Today, the school has 14 raised cold-frame beds with covers and a rain barrel that collects rain water from the gutters of the school. Classes assist in harvesting hundreds of vegetables and herbs. It also has a flower garden planted each year by the autistic support classes and kindergarten classes.
Approximately 500 children participate in the Bridge Valley garden program each year.