DEL CITY — First they sowed. Then they reaped. And on Wednesday, Del City Elementary School students sampled stone soup and spring green salad and marveled at what they had done.
“And to think we started with just a big pile of dirt,” one of the young gardeners said to her school principal, Ruth Kizer.
Kizer said she launched the gardening project at the kindergarten through fifth grade campus as a way to teach nutrition in a state plagued by obesity.
“We believe that healthy eating starts young,” she said. “And if you grow it yourself, you're more likely to eat it.”
The lessons extended far beyond vitamins and minerals. The students in the Midwest City-Del City School District learned about generosity and connecting with adults when 4-Hers, master gardeners and parents showed up to help.
Parents bought bricks for $1.50 each to help build the raised beds. The food bank donated seeds. The nearby Del City Church of Christ invited the kids to do some harvesting in its community garden.
The students learned about the effects of weather and soil type on garden plants, Kizer said. They were amazed that a tiny seed could grow into something many times larger.
“There's just so much you can do with a garden, in the way of learning,” she said.
Some students tended the garden during science period. Others gave up some of their recesses. The project was incorporated into the campus after-school program.
As harvest day approached, they read the children's fable about the beggar who beguiled stingy villagers into dropping vegetables in his pot by boiling a “magic stone,” then shared the resulting soup with the donors.
One of the volunteer master gardeners provided a special stone for the soup made with the bounty of Tuesday's harvest, Kizer said.
“We introduced them to a lot of veggies,” she said.
Spring crops such as chard, onions and radishes were harvested this week, but much is still growing. Parents have agreed to look after the corn, peppers, tomatoes and other crops that will need help to make it through a hot Oklahoma summer.
“In the fall we're going to make salsa,” Kizer said.