ORLANDO, Fla. – Students at Lake Silver Elementary School in Orlando’s College Park neighborhood are getting an important lesson not only about where food comes from, but how different nutrients help fuel their bodies.
Pat Bush, a paraprofessional in the physical education department, maintains the 2,000-square-foot garden and teaches gardening to the students.
“If those kids come out here they know there’s nothing that can harm them chemical-wise. We go through the whole body and show that what you eat determines how your body will grow, and how it will react. If you’re going to get old or not. How big you’re going to get. The darker the color the better for you,” Bush said.
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Bush said everything in the garden is planted from seed and they focus on heirloom crops, which are varieties of fruits and vegetables that have been around for more than 50 years.
“We don’t cut things back. This is not a formal garden. This is more like a farm. If they harvest, they bring it home,” he said.
Bush said any excess is sold to staff and families. On Valentine’s Day, the school sold flowers from the garden. Bush said the cool weather growing season just wrapped up, and students are putting the garden to bed for the summer.
“This brings me joy, OK. To see that they like what they’re doing. They’re learning. There are no textbooks. This is not dry. It’s alive. You’re not checking out a book. You’re actually in a garden. Sunshine. Wonderful for them. Fresh air. They learn what’s going on around them,” Bush said. “When they grow up, they will teach their children this. When they have their own home they will have some background in what they’re doing.”
Bush said they put cardboard and leaves over the soil for the summer, which attracts earthworms and prepares the soil for planting in the fall.
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