Children’s School learns to grow food from master gardeners

  • Emma Naylor, 5, picks a snap pea from the Children's School garden Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, at Children's School. RILEY ROBINSON/ STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

So far in the 2018 season, Nick and Sandi Stupiansky have taught an average of 56 kids a week at Children’s School about gardening.

The Stupianskys, who are master gardeners in the Bird, Tree & Garden Club, spend one day a week at Children’s School tending to the gardens and letting the kids get their hands dirty.

Last spring, Martha Kleinberg donated money used to create raised flower beds, which Nick made himself. Kleinberg made her donation because she sees Children’s School as a place for multi-faceted learning experiences — like children learning where their food comes from.

Nick and Sandi taught elementary and pre-K grade levels, so making the decision to visit Children’s School regularly was an easy one.

“Since we both have experience teaching young children, we thought that would be the perfect thing to do to combine gardening and (teaching) young children,” Sandi said.

The Stupianskys color-coded each flower bed to coordinate with the different classrooms at Children’s School. There are yellow wax beans in the Yellow Room garden, green beans in the Green Room area and purple beans in that room’s garden. The gardens are filled with flowers and a multitude of vegetables and fruits.

Every week, the children try food from the garden. They tried radishes the first week and, most recently, tomatoes on Mon., Aug. 13. The group of 5s in Yellow Room were excited to try the tomatoes.

Lily Burgeson, who helps her mom in the garden at home, said she liked the tomatoes.

“I like that they’re juicy,” Lily said.

As the weeks have progressed, the children have become more adventurous in tasting the fruits and vegetables. In the earlier weeks, only about 25 percent of the children would try the food, and now it’s almost 100 percent, Sandi said. Children’s School also uses the freshly grown food for snacks.

Sandi said the best part about teaching the kids is when they remember something. When the Stupianskys asked what one of the flowers were called, Sandi was surprised when the kid shouted out the flower’s name.

“It was so cool because we never thought he would remember the word ‘nasturtium,’ ” Sandi said.

Located at the back of the garden is a composter that the kids turn themselves. The Stupianskys weed the garden and needed a place to put trimmings, Sandi said. The children are often back there turning the composter and peeking at the soil. Showing the kids how to garden and compost is teaching them important lessons, Nick said.

“(We’re showing them that) if we take care of the Earth in appropriate ways, it will give back to us,” Nick said.

Tags : Bird Tree & Garden ClubChildren's Schoolgardening

The author Georgia Davis

Georgia Davis is a rising senior at Ohio University, where she studies journalism. Georgia covers the Chautauqua Opera Company and Children’s School for the Daily. Georgia is a cinephile, and her favorite movies of 2017 were The Big Sick and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.