Good things growing at Westview
Community garden brings students, staff and neighbors together
Just outside the front doors to Westview Elementary, students are learning that the fruits of their labors can literally be eaten.
Tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, kale and a whole host of other vegetables are growing in the school’s community garden there, thanks to the efforts this spring of students, staff and neighbors of the Apple Valley school.
Many Westview students have volunteered their time during recess this spring to help out in the garden, eschewing the joys of the monkey bars and the kickball court to spread wood chips and water plants.
“It’s been quite an adventure for a lot of our students,” said Lynn Vinge, a paraprofessional at Westview who’s been lending her home gardening expertise to the project.
“I was amazed at how many students didn’t know how to dump a bucket of soil – for many of them it’s their first time working in a garden, and it’s been a real learning process.”
The garden took root with some help from local businesses, with Gerten’s Greenhouse donating the seeds and starter soil and Coca-Cola providing the rain barrels that serve as the grow boxes.
Also part of the garden project is a mini-library, a red mailbox-like enclosure adjoining the garden filled with books. Students, neighbors – anybody, actually – are free to take or leave books there.
“Many families who live within walking distance of school have trouble getting to the public library over the summer, so our new free-standing book house will promote literacy, love of reading and community,” said school social worker Patsy Ryan, who helped organize the garden project.
Work in the garden, which has received a helping hand from local groups such as the Apple Valley Seniors and Restoration Church, will continue into the summer. A handful of neighbors near Westview have already agreed to tend the plants after school lets out this week.
As for all the fresh vegetables that will soon get harvested, keep your eyes peeled for Westview’s homespun produce section on wheels.
“We’re going to put it on a cart and go around the neighborhood with a little sign that says ‘free produce,’” Ryan said.