photo by Nevie Everly

The third-grade students of Providence Montessori’s Classroom IV are the recipients of the Fayette County Farm Bureau’s Spring Reimbursement Gardening Grant. The grant supports Classroom IV’s spring planting of cold weather crops including carrots, beets, radishes, broccoli, turnips, and lettuce and the planting of summer crops of tomatoes and beans as the season transitions into summer.

The gardening program is one component of Providence Montessori’s overall mission of teaching and incorporating sustainable practices and initiatives geared towards preparing students for their future as environmental stewards and ambassadors. Each student participates in gardening activities three hours per week as part of classroom assignments that engage in Botany lessons focused on plant parts, reproductive processes, edible portions of each species included in the the spring crop, natural insect and pest prevention, weeding and maintenance, companion plantings, and expand to include vitamin and nutritional values of the plants.

The students kicked off the spring gardening initiative by surveying the plant beds and then by using the Square Foot Method, the students planted the garden, determined the crops and quantities of each species, and then strategically located them to incorporate insect defensive plants such as Marigolds. As part of this valuable hands-on experience the students gain an appreciation for eating organically grown produce with a long-term goal of preparing students for making sound decisions about the foods they consume.

The classroom gardening program incorporates Junior Master Gardening lessons, Montessori Botany curriculum and integrates both the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension/4-H Office and the Department of Agriculture education resources.