Perhaps you’ve noticed the tender pea shoots and bright kale sprouts emerging from the two skinny beds in the corner of the community garden (to your right when you enter through the front gate). Maybe you’ve wondered whose youthful handwriting is on the wooden labels. Here’s the story behind these special plots gardened by Phoenicia Elementary School students.

The Health & Wellness Committee at Phoenicia initiated this year’s linkage with Shandaken Community Gardens—a wonderful opportunity for the students and a beautiful expression of SCG’s vision and mission. The School plots were earmarked by the garden committee as “Ed Beds” intended for educational and communal purposes during the planning phase of the garden, years ago, long before this particular partnership.

According to Health & Wellness Committee member, Maxanne Resnick, H&W keeps a focus on food, physical movement, and on illness prevention.  The committee is comprised of the principal, several teachers, the school nurse and several parents. They interface with the PTA as needed. “While the School District’s food services has done a tremendous amount to further healthy food offerings,” she says, “we feel that aiding the kids in understanding how to grow their own healthy food, and enjoying the taste of their harvest is exciting and worthwhile.”

So far, 50 of Phoenicia’s third graders have gotten their hands dirty and plan to grow veggies to eat and share with PTA families and the community. These budding gardeners have a support team of teachers, parents, and SCG’s very own Mimi, a SCG garden member who has volunteered as liaison and will help maintain the plots when school is out for the summer.

The kids will continue to grow additional crops in the PTA school garden that is located in the back of the building. Each class had its own planting bed there, and every year food has been harvested at an event in the fall and cooked in the garden by a local chef. The kids have loved this event, in which they get to harvest the food and eat it immediately.   By linking with the community garden and utilizing the donated Ed Beds, the hope is a greater abundance of produce and some volunteer community gardeners to help maintain the plots over the summer so the kids have a bounty when they return in the fall.