Harvesting a childs knowledge

 Messenger photo by Christine Bryant
Students from Molly McCarrick’s first grade classroom dig for potatoes at Montrose Elementary School in Bexley. The students planted the potatoes last spring as part of a class project that unified the students and taught them about interacting with the planet.

Students gathered in anticipation around a garden outside Montrose Elementary School in Bexley, eagerly awaiting the results of their hard work.

One by one, each first grade student from teacher Molly McCarrick’s class picked up a shovel, ready to dig up the potatoes they grew as part of a school project last spring.

"Now that’s a nice potato," student William Rauschenberg said as the first one was uncovered to the sounds of "oohs" and "ahhhs" from the students.

And that wasn’t the only one.

Within 15 minutes, the students had uncovered 26 pounds of potatoes.

 It was an experience that not only unified the students, but taught them about interacting with the planet.

"It’s the process of starting with something and seeing the whole life cycle," McCarrick said.

The project began when parent Christopher Yates approached McCarrick about incorporating a gardening project into her lesson plans to show kids – especially those who have lived in the city all their lives – the process of how vegetables grow and are harvested.

"So many kids grow up and have no idea where food comes from," Yates said. "It’s some kind of magical thing that comes from the supermarket."

Last spring, each of the 20 students in McCarrick’s class took a small piece of potato and planted it in a garden Yates created in the school’s field.

"They all dug their little hole and put their potato in," Yates said.

During the spring and summer, sprouts emerged and leaves formed. Eventually the vines whithered, but what was left was a vegetable the students are excited to see on their plates.

"I learned how to plant and harvest the potatoes," student Nate Tripple said as he stuffed his white T-shirt covered in dirt with the potatoes he had claimed.

Also in the spring, students planted sweet potato starter plants in a separate garden.

The students will return later this month to dig those up as well once they have fully harvested.

"To me, its this magical thing," Yates said. "It looks like a pile of dirt, but when they dig them up, there are potatoes."

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