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Julien students take a close look at school garden
Joel Martinez, second-grader at Julien Elementary School, touches his favorite plant in the Julien garden called the sticky monkey named after the sticky leaves that cling on to anyone who touches them like a monkey. - photo by MAEGAN MARTENS/ The Journal

Slimy worms, sticky monkey plants and sugar leaves are just some of the things that Julien Elementary School students have been growing all year and on Friday they were able to celebrate all their hard work and take a closer look at their plants during their 12th annual Garden Celebration.

“They learn about what a garden is really about,” said Linda Murphy-Lopes, Julien Elementary principal. “They learn about agriculture in general. It brings a little bit of agriculture into their lives.”

Students participated in a variety of different classroom activities, from taking a close look at worms and what they do, to making their own stamps from potatoes and tasting the produce grown  in their garden with the help of the Turlock Unified School District Food Services.

“They learn about the purpose of a garden while we are using state standards,” said Kathy Gilfillan, second grade teacher at Julien Elementary. “By taking a closer look at worms they are learning the life cycle of animals too.”

Students really enjoyed taking a look at their worms and learning what they do in the garden.

“I learned that worms have hair,” said Xochil Villegas, second-grader at Julien Elementary. “When it’s really quiet, you can hear the hair when they are crawling.”

Students also incorporated some math, science and language arts into their activities while learning about their school garden.

Through the pumpkin projects activity, students wrote poems about their individual pumpkins.

But what students enjoyed most were some of the things they learned while they were hands on in the garden.

“I learned that you have to follow directions,” said Cali Terry, second-grader. “If you put the plant in too deep it won’t grow and if you put the plant in too high it won’t grow.”

Her favorite part about the garden is that it is quiet and there are a lot of things she can look at, she said.

Second-grader Kaden Ferro also learned about placing his plant in the ground at the right depth to guarantee a good lettuce plant this year. He plans to have his own garden with sugar plants, lemon leaf and lettuce, he said. Even though he is in charge of planting the lettuce, his favorite plant is the lemon leaf.

“When you rub it, it smells like lemon,” Ferro said.

Joel Martinez, second-grader, finds himself at the front of the garden playing with the sticky monkey plant most often. He likes how the plant sticks to his fingers when he touches it.

With students getting a kick out of the different plants they can grow in their garden, parents are also enjoying the educational side of the garden.

“It is a natural way to talk about nutrition,” said Maureen Ferro-Souza, mother of Kaden Ferro. “It is an outside activity they can do at home.”

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.