OUR SCHOOL GARDEN
At École Saint-Landry, students sow seeds, transplant seedlings, compost their lunch leftovers, pull weeds, water the garden, measure plant growth, harvest fruits and vegetables, weigh and draw the harvest, and cook together. In addition to crepes, galette de rois, and sablés normands, students prepare salads, roast seeds, bake breads and muffins, and taste homegrown fruits and vegetables.
With the help of our parents and staff, we were able to build five raised beds and till around them to form a garden area. Our compost bin is nearby, and the Lion of the Week is in charge of picking up compostable lunch waste and bringing it out to the bin where older students help to water and turn the compost weekly.
In the center of the garden area is a pollinator bed where we get to watch and record visits from butterflies and bees. Following a lesson plan from Seeds to Success, and in conjunction with our Social and Emotional Learning classes, our students painted river rocks with positive messages they thought up in French, such as "Tu est fort en Maths," "Tu est belle," and "Tu peux le faire," which we placed around the pollinator bed.
As part of our cultural exchange efforts, we planted sorrel and hibiscus seeds that Monsieur Ibrahima brought us from Senegal. When they bloom, he will teach us to make tea from the flowers. In the future we hope to host outdoor dinners cooked by our foreign and local teachers using produce from our garden.
We have regular lessons from the LSU Ag Center's Seeds to Success Farm to School Program, translated into French, and students receive "I tried local!" or "Official Taste Tester" stickers for trying new foods, like pumpkin.
Because we are in an economically disadvantaged area, many of our students do not regularly eat many fresh fruits and vegetables at home. Salads do not play a large part in our average cultural fare, and when families do serve vegetables at home, they are often over-cooked, battered and fried, or served in unhealthy sauces. One of our aims for our garden is teaching children to enjoy healthier food options.
We will gratefully receive donations of plants, seeds, shade and fruit trees, soil, mulch, compost bins, and gently-used gardening equipment if you would like to support our efforts. We have six acres of land behind our school that we can eventually use to expand our garden and add a chicken coup, perhaps even starting our own student farmer's market in the future.