Escalon Sunrise Rotary Club has been active in the Collegeville area recently, helping with the school garden and donating a greenhouse to the rural elementary site.
“Throughout the year, the club has organized work days to prepare the garden beds for planting,” explained garden coordinator and Collegeville third grade teacher Cindy Moreno. “Recently, a greenhouse equipped with shelving and trays was purchased by the club and donated to the school.”
The students from most classes work in the garden, Moreno added.
“Classes that want to use the garden are usually assigned a planting bed. The students plant and clear the garden the best they can,” she explained, noting that there isn’t a regular schedule, work is done as time allows.
“Usually we don’t get the garden planted until late May. When the kids come back to school in August, their plants have already grown and are producing fruits and vegetables,” Moreno said. “But this year, because of the greenhouse, we will be able to plant our seeds in a couple of weeks, then transplant them in March or April and watch them grow.”
Moreno said the school is appreciative of the support from the Rotary Club and students are eager to take a more active role in planting and tending to the garden.
“Fruits, vegetables, and flowers from the garden are used in many ways, depending on the time of the year and abundance,” explained Moreno. “Some of my classes have made vegetable soups and salads. Last week when the kids were clearing the garden, they dug up carrots and radishes; so, we ate them for our snack the next day.”
Young gardeners have also taken cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelon to the cafeteria to be cut up for school lunches.
“Last fall, some of the kids were able to take pumpkins home for Halloween decorations. Sometimes I just put fruit and vegetables on the staffroom table for the staff to take home,” Moreno said. “The flowers make our garden look beautiful, especially from a distance. We have picked them for events at school or just for a cheery bouquet. I’ve also had parents ask me if they could pick some things from the garden to take home.”
All of the produce and flowers are put to good use, and Moreno said with the assistance of the Rotary Club members, this year will be even more bountiful for the rural campus.
“They have been so generous,” Moreno said.