Students at Cedar Ridge Elementary celebrate Harvest Day next to their American Heart Association Teaching Garden (photo by WJBC/Zach Dietmeier)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - Cedar Ridge Elementary second graders celebrated Harvest Day on Tuesday as part of the American Heart Association's Teaching Gardens program. The garden is designed to teach children about healthy eating habits while giving them an outlet they may not otherwise have. It's the only such garden in McLean County, thanks in large part to dietician work by Advocate BroMenn.
Anne Bare, a second grade teacher at Cedar Ridge, is running the garden with help from her students. Bare's class has grown tomatoes, broccoli, radishes and turnips with plans to continue next year.
"To use the cliche, I think it really has planted a seed in these kids' heads that they really can have a garden and anyone can do it and be successful," said Bare. "I do think next year will be much more successful."
Not to say this year wasn't successful, but Bare says she had to fight the drought and the problems that came with it.
"The summer school students and I came out every day and watered and weeded. They planted the tomatoes and helped with replanting the broccoli seeds thanks to the dry conditions," said Bare. "This fall, we've been out here weeding, we also planted the ground cover, and this spring we will compost."
Bare also says the drought taught her that she wants to have a water collection system to show her students that it's better to have recycled water to use rather than right out of the tap when conditions warrant extra conservation.
Students sang songs, prepared special snacks harvested from the garden, and read garden stories. The program is meant to promote healthy living among young children, and the excitement level among the students at Cedar Ridge is a major reason the project will continue next year.
"They're already planning pumpkins for this time next year," said Bare.
Zach can be reached at Zach.Dietmeier@cumulus.com.