- You will want to make sure that your trellis is close enough to the ground and is thin enough for pea tendrils to grab onto. It’s easy to add a layer of yarn, bird netting, or chicken wire to the outside of any grand trellis structures your class creates (this is our plan for the pyramid trellis). Make sure it goes all the way down to the ground, so the peas are resting against it.
- Peas can reach heights of 6 feet tall, so often at our elementary schools, the peas outgrow smaller trellises that you see younger classes designing in these pictures. If this happens, it can be easily remedied by acquiring 6′ stakes or branches, pushing them into the corners of your raised bed behind the shorter trellises, and stretching bird netting (available for about $6 from most home & garden stores) between them. Lean the overgrown peas against the new trellis and they’ll do the rest of the work.
- Trellises can either be pushed deep into the soil of the raised beds (make sure it doesn’t wobble at all when you push it!), or nailed or screwed to the wood of the raised beds.
Angela Vaughn is a Second Grade Teacher at Shaw VPA Elementary. She works with her Second Graders in the garden. The following is an interview with Angela Vaughn and Gateway Greening’s Youth Educator, Punita Patel.
How did you get started with gardening at school?
About three years ago, I began working with an architecture program and we made birdhouses in the garden area. The garden just seemed so peaceful. So we would take the students out and work at the picnic benches that are there. The kids would love walking around and just observing. So when I moved to the second grade, I thought it would be a great hands-on experience for them to have a garden.
Why do you stick with it?
I feel like the students today don’t have enough one-on-one contact and communication. If you think about gardening together, you have to talk. It is not like looking at computers all-day and letting the computers think for them. They have to help each other out. There is a lot of teamwork involved in gardening.
Do you see your students doing things in the garden that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do indoors?
What I see in the garden is them working together, playing together, and being more social. They are very playful, but at the same time, they are serious and look forward to the end result. We want them to see that we are planting the seeds of academics and education in their minds. So we do a compare and contrast with that. We plant these seeds in the garden, which then grow from the earth. But then you come into the building and we plant another type of seed that stays in the mind.
What do teachers need the most in order to use the garden successfully?
More time and manpower, more volunteers. Why? We want the students to be excited about school. When I say the word “garden” or “Ms. Punita,” their faces light up as if I said we’re having candy all day, every day, for the next year. They are excited and I want them to be excited about school.
What have you done in the garden so far?
We worked with Gateway Greening’s Sweet Potato Challenge last year. The sweet potatoes that we are growing indoors right now happen to be sweet potatoes that were left over from the Sweet Potato Challenge last year! This year, we’ve planted the greens and the cabbages. I think the most exciting part for us as a school was during out PTO, we were able to share with our parents. They were so excited to receive free produce! They said “My children grew this?” Yes!
What is your best garden story?
The Sweet Potato Challenge. The children were digging for those potatoes like they were digging for gold. They were working together, and they had glowing faces. It wasn’t anything we had to go to the store and buy or return. To me, that will stay in their minds forever. They were in it to win it!
When is the last time you discovered something new and wonderful about the world? Do you remember how it made you feel?
Hi! My name is Erin, and I’m the new Communications & Fundraising Americorp VISTA at Gateway Greening this year. Although I’m normally found haunting the office, last Saturday I managed to escape to the Bell Demonstration Garden for the first volunteer work day of 2016 There’s nothing like taking advantage of a sunny day to work in the garden after a Midwest winter!
Being new to Gateway Greening and community gardens in general, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from the experience. I tried to imagine how the day might go… maybe I’d learn a new skill? Meet some interesting people? Get over my irrational fear of chickens? Regardless of how the day turned out, I was sure it would wind up being a memorable experience, and I was right – but not for the reasons I’d imagined.
There were a lot of great moments throughout the day as volunteers, Americorp VISTAs, and staff worked together to wake up Bell Garden. Corny garden jokes and calls for “more greens for the compost!” were flying fast as everyone worked to turn soil, cut back perennials, and every other task imaginable in a spring garden. It was great to see everyone out and having a good time! But the best thing was seeing people who had never met before, sharing backstories and getting to know their neighbors.
For me, the most memorable moment was watching two of our volunteers discovering that they lived in the same neighborhood – one that had an existing garden! Within moments, Gail and Emily were swapping contact information and chatting about the possibilities. We can’t wait to see them in action in their own neighborhood at the Botanical Avenue Garden!
By the end of our busy work day, it wasn’t the skills I’d learned or even the chickens I’d met (not scary at all!) that struck me. It was the overwhelming sense of community and connection I experienced that I found truly memorable.