Seeds and other spring miracles

As I write this, snow is blowing outside my window, BUT yesterday it was almost 70 and a little snow can’t stop me from declaring it spring!  The hoop house is weeded, the soil is cultivated, and seedlings are growing in classrooms!

My FoodCorps service year has been filled with heartwarming moments with kids, but planting seeds with preschoolers definitely ranks high on the list.

My youngest gardeners in HeadStart and at the Children’s Center in Red Lodge are starting seeds with grow lights and could not be more excited about it.  When I explained that the tiny seeds would grow into real lettuce plants, one kid speculated,

“This plant will grow and grow and grow a leaf as big as my head!”

Maybe!  And maybe not – but their optimism and joy makes me excited to dust off the gardening tools again.

Planting at the Children’s Center

There are many small miracles in the garden in spring.  This week, Red Lodge second and third graders discovered that the spinach, kale, and carrots they planted way back in the fall survived all winter and are ready to be munched on.

Spinach survived under a low hoop!

And finding soft, moist black soil at the bottom of our compost bins had me feeling as excited as a preschooler!  A local garden expert is teaching me how to manage our bins, and we both did a compost happy dance.

With fresh garden compost, the hoop house is ready for planting
With fresh garden compost, the hoop house is ready for planting

As the end of the school year pulls into view (time flies when you’re tasting, cooking, and gardening!), I am also reflecting on the less literal seeds I’m planting here at Mountain View Elementary.  In March, teachers adopted the Harvest of the Month program, committing to integrate one activity a month into their classroom schedule.  Our newly formed Wellness Committee is bringing together parents, teachers, food service, and administrators to brainstorm innovative ways to make school food work better for our students, like serving breakfast in the classroom and holding recess before lunch.  And with almost seven months of FoodCorps classes under their belt, my students can understand the nutritional components of their lunch tray and trace those foods back to the soil.  I’m looking forward to watching these seeds take root and grow, changing our school’s food environment slowly over time.