Nashville Elementary School expanding ‘Garden Lab’ as part of science class

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    Derrick Roberts and Tony Fatherree assisting with expansion of the Nashville Elementary School garden on Saturday. Roberts works at D and J Supply who donated trenching for the gardens original and expanded irrigation system. Fatherree donated equipment work and materials to prepare the site for the garden.

    The garden at Nashville Elementary School that was added last year as part of the school’s 6th grade science curriculum is being expanded this year to provide each student their own small area to work.

    As part of their classwork, the students grow vegetables in the garden, harvest them and then prepare healthy dishes in the classroom. The current garden consists of 6 square-foot garden raised beds with drip irrigation, providing a low-maintenance, productive garden for the youths. The new expanded garden will have six additional square-foot garden beds, a pollinator bed, an herb bed and benches for an outdoor classroom.

    Last fall, approximately 148 students planted and harvested a garden of radishes, cabbage, broccoli, onions, garlic and lettuce. The students recorded plant growth data daily and maintained accurate records of which varieties produce the best. The same group of students planted a spring garden of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, gourds, sunflowers, beets, radishes, and onions. The radishes produced giant, beautiful leafy tops but very few radishes. The students did some research and determined that the excessive amounts of rain received shortly after planting the seeds caused the plants to send all its energy to the leaves and leaving none for the radish itself.

    Although originally intended for the 6th grade science lab, the beds are now being used for science activities in other grades as well.  For example, sixth graders assisted the fourth grade students in completing a science experiment about the influence of light or lack of light on the growth of pepper plants by planting specific plants for them and documenting the plants’ growth. 

    The garden has been a community project from the beginning. Construction materials and classroom supplies were made possible  with grants from Blue and You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas and Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention. Labor and equipment work for preparing the original and expanded garden sites and installation of the irrigation system was donated by Tony Fatherree Sand and Gravel, while D&J Supply donated trenching for the irrigation system. Master Gardener volunteers from Nashville Demonstration Organic Garden designed the original and expanded garden and assisted with garden bed construction and installation.

    The Howard County Sheriffs Department provided support by scheduling 309’s from the Howard County Jail to assist with the heavy work of installing garden pavers and building raised beds. NES students and teachers plant, harvest and maintain the garden.

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