If all goes according to plan, Humphrey Middle School students will be eating lettuce and radishes from their own edible garden before the first snow falls this winter.
Thanks to a grant from the Valley View School District 365U Nutrition Services Department, Humphrey will become the third VVSD school to have an edible garden. Three other schools will soon follow suit.
“Eighty percent of what grows in this garden will actually be served in our cafeteria,” said 6th grade special education math teacher Michelle Stiff, co-coordinator of the Humphrey Edible Garden Committee.
“Ultimately our vision is for us to be able to use the garden for teaching and meeting areas,” added co-cordinator Mary Kuliavas, an 8th grade special education language arts teacher.
Construction on the 25x50 foot plot, located on the south side of the school, begins at 9 a.m. Saturday when Humphrey staff members, led by the garden committee, hope to build six 4x6 foot raised beds of varying heights. Working with Kuliavas and Stiff on the committee are Dan Laverty, Mike Stoehrman, Judy Elmore, Rebecca Mayer, Misty Mszal, Stephanie Sanchez, Linda Eddins and Kelli Monahan.
A week later, on Saturday morning, Sept. 14, after the VVSD Facility Operations Department delivers the soil and mulch, Humphrey officials are asking community members to assist in filling the beds, laying the mulch and placing the tree stumps that will serve as seats in the garden.
“We don’t have enough tools to get this done, so we’re asking anyone who comes to bring some tools too,” Stiff said. “Any parent and community support we can get would be great.”
Once the beds are prepared, the lettuce and radish seeds will go in right away in an effort to beat the first frost.
“If we’re very, very lucky, maybe we’ll have some carrots too,” Kuliavas said.
This winter, the school’s science classes will plant a wide variety of vegetables and spices inside and watch them grow, waiting for the right moment to transplant them into the garden next spring.
“We’ve also talked about planting flowers and using the flowers for table arrangements,” Stiff said, adding native prairie grasses are also a strong possibility.
“There are so many neat things you can do with this,” added Kuliavas, who said she hopes to be able to install a clear panel on one side of one of the beds “so the kids can see the root system grow.”
Anyone interested is helping with the construction of the garden is invited to e-mail KuliavasMD@vvsd.org or StiffMM@vvsd.org or call the school at 630-972-9240.