On Oct. 3, students at Dr. Bessie Rhodes School of Global Studies, 3701 Davis St. in Skokie, got some help from both teachers and parents, not to mention members of Edible Evanston, in setting up their new edible garden.
The garden consists of four plots, planned by Edible Evanston as part of its goal to make growing food accessible to area residents, that students will be able to incorporate into any number of their studies.
Becky Brodsky, a parent of Rhodes students and a PTA member, said that Rhodes was the only remaining school in District 65 without a garden. “We have been working on environmental initiatives for eight years, but no edible garden,” she said. “We decided it was time.”
There are several months until anyone sees the garden in bloom, but fifth-grade teacher Laura Kulb said it will bring a reprieve to the plantings her students maintain on a windowsill all winter long; once those were grown, there was little left to do but throw them away. “Now we can transplant them outside and watch them grow more,” explained Ms. Kulb.
“It’s something that gets the kids outside, and gets them learning where their food comes from,” added Ms. Brodsky, who said one idea floated around – since the school was committed to global studies – was theming the plots around specific continents or countries. “It helps teachers with added elements they can incorporate into classrooms,” Ms. Brodsky said.
That’s not just in the science classrooms either. The Rhodes staff plans to incorporate the garden in art classes, for example. Some students that day were painting aluminum flowers and butterflies that will later be perched in the garden; their shininess will help deter pests. Second-grader Juliette Jones, age 7, was among those students. Juliette said she helped garden at her grandmother’s house, and looked forward to helping grow flowers and carrots at the school.
Ms. Brodsky’s twin sons, seventh- graders Noah and Jacob, age 12, both said they looked forward to growing food as well. “I think it will be nice when we get to eat from it,” Jacob said. “And it will make the school greener.”
“Kids will eat crazy stuff out of a garden, like kale, that they would never eat off their plate,” said Ms. Brodsky. “It is awesome on so many levels.”
The cost of the garden was split by the PTA and Edible Evanston. Edible Evanston, who also donated the labor, contributed as part of a grant from the Evanston Community Foundation that was mostly utilized to help 20 households set up garden plots, according to co-leader Ken Kastman.
“We’re focusing mainly on needy places and homes,” said Mr. Kastman. “This is the only school, but schools need gardens too.”
As Mr. Kastman looked on, a group of students broke ground in the new plots, excited to turning over the earth for the first time. One bystander looked on and joked, “Well, if we ever need pulverized dirt, we know where to turn.”