Students learn in 'winter garden'

BRISTOL, Va. - There's nothing like a beautiful day to start your vegetable garden. At this time of year you ask? Actually it's the same as spring, only backwards.

It's the right time to grow yourself a winter greens garden for salads, and as we discovered it's the perfect learning tool on all kinds of levels.

Saint Anne's students huddle around for last minute instructions on putting the final touches on their winter garden. But what can you grow in this winter garden? "What we're planting is spinach, kale, lettuces that are a little bit hardier so that they can survive over winter. What we'll do in the garden is cover them with row covers to give them warmth," says Denise Peterson with the Appalachian Sustainable Development Learning Landscapes program.

The Appalachian Sustainable Development Learning Landscapes program allows students and teachers a chance to use a simple garden as a tool for all kinds of learning experiences. "Science students will be coming over and taking measurements on the plants as they grow. We'll be putting those on charts and graphing that in math classes," science and math teacher Sam Dolinger said.

The students have been charting the weather and will use that to see the weather's effect on their crops.

They've been getting ready for their garden for weeks now. "Earlier this year we started three compost boxes inside the science room. We're starting with newspapers, cuttings on the bottom of a plastic box, and added top and some organic material, leaves and grass," Dollinger said.

Plus one of the students' favorite ingredients -- earthworms.

They're also adding ingredients to their garden plots that they've fashioned. "We finished that last one there, two were already done so we just drilled a couple of those planks together to those posts," eighth grader Cameron Thiers said.

"Today we made this last bed and we added top soil, peat moss and organic top soil," says eighth grader Ben Hazelwood.

"Well it has to be like kind of like your baking lasagna, and add layers," seventh grader Anna Gent added.

It's no wonder farmers are so smart -- they have to know so much to just grow food and now these students are gaining all of that knowledge too.

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