Valley cultivates healthful habits with garden project

Posted: June 10, 2012
 Valley cultivates healthful habits with garden project

"Take care of the land, and the land will take care of you." ~Hugh H. Bennett

Students at Valley Community School will be learning firsthand what it means to reap the benefits of a well-cared-for piece of land. A large garden was planted on school grounds last week with the help of students from preschool through fifth grade. The V-shaped planter bed is located behind the school building with a smaller one near the front entrance of the elementary.

Students spent time planning, planting, and watering last week in order to give their vegetables the right start.

The school garden was originally organized by the Valley School Wellness Team and Parents in Education (PIE) organization. Elementary principal Betsy Nefzger said the garden was planted so there would be fall vegetables to harvest. There were also items planted that can be frozen or canned for future use.
"Freshly harvested items will be used in school lunches as well as in classroom instruction," Nefzger said.

Produce from the garden will be used classrooms for to incorporate healthy lifestyles, with instruction on healthy eating, cooking and preparing, as well as for special events. The outdoor classroom space will also allow teachers to incorporate the garden into their lesson plans.

Items planted include tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, radishes, carrots, arugula, herbs, beets, potatoes, cucumbers and more.

With summer quickly approaching, volunteers from the community will help care for the garden through the "Adopt-a-Garden" program. Students are able to sign up their families to take care of the garden for a week while school is not is session.

Last week the Valley fifth-graders helped map out the garden with Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative helper Elizabeth Makarewicz. Throughout the week students in the elementary learned how to plant the different vegetables with Makarewicz's direction.

Makarewicz will be working with the school to teach students basic gardening maintenance skills and offer an optional cooking class.

As a part of Valley's 2011-12 School Wellness Action Plan, many of these opportunities include activities of both The Farm to School and Safe Routes to School programs.

"We want students to learn about living a healthier lifestyle and share their experience of growing and eating their own food. We also want to provide an opportunity for student and community partnerships," Nefzger said of the overall goals of the garden project.

Anyone wishing to help out with the garden throughout the summer months or donate money or items should contact or Betsy Nefzger, or Elizabeth Makarewicz at

Source:, Jessica Duren, May 23, 2012

Tag: schoolwellness

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