Students take care of 'kindergarten'
August 13, 2009
Six-year-olds Camryn Ward and Cheyenne Puckett love the cucumbers that come from their day care's garden.
The Scales Avenue Child Development Center's community garden was started eight years ago. And each spring since, the center's children plant at least two vegetables each season.
This year, Scales CDC children -- from toddlers to first-graders -- planted cucumber and string bean seeds.
"When me and Cheyenne did that (help plant the garden), we had to take all the weeds out," Camryn said. "Because we don't want them to grow in our garden because they'll kill our plants," she added, referring to the weeds.
Vera Gilliam, program lead for the CDC's kindergarten students, said the garden -- which measures about 5 feet by 10 feet -- was the idea of the center's director Thomas Manigo.
"Mr. Manigo encouraged us to do this. He wants the children to see how we get food, the whole process. He wanted them to see from seeds, to plants, to harvest, to meals," Gilliam said.
Manigo said he also wanted to teach the children diligence and how hard work and consistency could produce positive results.
"We're trying to teach the children patience, that there is an order to everything in life," Manigo said.
The seeds that the children plant in the garden every season are symbolic of them, he said. Just as seeds are cultivated, watered and cared for, the children should also be nurtured and developed.
Though modest in size, the center's garden has already produced about 50 cucumbers, Gilliam said. The string beans are doing well, too. It has proved a treat for the center's more than 300 children -- however more so for its 36 kindergartners and first-graders.
"The kitchen (staff) cuts our cucumbers, and we get to eat (them) for snacks," Camryn said.
Though Cheyenne is also a fan of the cucumbers, she really likes those string beans: "I think the best thing is the string beans. I like string beans and peas," she said.
Camryn and Cheyenne are going to first grade next year so they won't be returning to the Scales CDC as students. However, they have shared their hopes for next year's garden.
"I want corn and pumpkins," Cheyenne said.
"I want broccoli and corn," Camryn said.