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Elementary students take gardening to a new level
Students pass around different vegetables feeling the textures in their nutrition and tasting class for the Garden Celebration at Julien Elementary School on Friday. This class was one of 11 classes the students could choose from to learn more about their school garden. - photo by MAEGAN MARTENS / The Journal
Second grader Amelia Boyd’s favorite part of the Julien Elementary Garden Celebration is the taste testing. Along with tasting the variety of plants, she  danced to garden songs, learned about nutrition, and studied the process of photosynthesis on Friday.  
“I love the Garden Celebration because we get to sing garden songs and the tasting is going to be fun, but I hate pears,” Boyd said.
Julien Elementary School hosts a Garden Celebration every year to celebrate the summer harvest in preparation of new winter plants digging their roots into the school’s garden.
The celebration lasts for most of a day with over 11 special classes that students were able to chose to attend. Some of the classes students took during the one-day harvest-themed curriculum included: wiggly worms, Mr. Wooley’s photosynthesis, snails, and nutrition and tasting.  
“We take the school standards and apply them to vegetables like pumpkins,” said Jane Wheeler, garden coordinator and second grade teacher at Julien Elementary. “We did some math and language arts with the pumpkins.”
Even though their celebration is once a year, maintaining the garden is an every day task that most of the students participate in.
Second grader Jazmyn Tubbs has the duty of watering the entire garden every day, Wheeler said. Most would think that watering the plants everyday would be a fun task but her favorite thing to do is pulling weeds.
The school garden started as a small project about 11 years ago, Wheeler said. It has now grown into a huge project with a mission garden, native plants garden, herb garden, flower garden, and a butterfly and bird garden. There are over 14 classes at the school that are involved with the school garden.
Students participate in different tasks with maintaining the garden daily, but the school has also turned the garden into a learning experience with incorporating school standards with garden experiments.
“It incorporates things they learn in school and they try to experiment with new things,” Wheeler said.
One of the experiments they did was with Indian corn, she said. It was incorporated into the 5th grade school standards.
Each grade level does different experiments to work with their grade level of standards.
“We do lots of worm experiments,” Tubbs said. “I learned that worms are allergic to light, they like the dark.”    
“The garden is a special place we all share,” Wheeler said. “It is a place where the students can plant anything from basil to corn and watch their hard work grow.”
“My favorite part is watching the things I planted grow,” Boyd said.
As garden coordinator, Wheeler said this is vital for teaching the students about health, nutrition, while also giving them a hobby.
“It is a really important, often missing, element in school education,” she said.
To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.