Northwood-Kensett students get an orientation to gardening

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, May 24, 2022

As an end-of-the-year project, Lisa Hagen and Annette Orvedal took their Northwood-Kensett sixth-grade students to the Worth County Fairgrounds for some gardening.

The project started when a speaker came in earlier this spring and talked about gardening and vegetables.

“A person from Iowa State University will come in and give a talk on gardening,” said Dennis Johnson, a Worth County Extension Education specialist. “That’s kind of their orientation to gardening.”

During the presentation, the specialist will explain why it’s important to have a garden.

“They’ll also talk about making sure the garden gets cared for properly,” he said.

Then it was the teachers’ turns.

“Then we followed up later on with talking to the kids in our own classrooms about the different vegetables that they might be able to plant,” Hagen said.

This wasn’t a typical garden either. It was raised bed gardening, which is a 4-foot-by-4-foot garden above the ground.

“We talked to them about what vegetables they might have access to and when they could plant,” she said.

“There’s a huge incentive here to get them involved in 4-H kind of ideas,” Orvedal sald. “But they don’t have to be a 4-Her. It’s a way to get them out there and gardening.”

Hagen’s goal in doing this was for students to become community members, while Orvedal hoped students develop lifelong skills and teamwork.

“The kids really enjoy planting day,” Orvedal said. “You always think this is going to be crazy, but they’re efficient with their time.”

Hagen echoed her sentiments and said she enjoyed seeing students give back to their families.

Their work will be judged during the Worth County Fair June 15 to 19, though according to Orvedal unless radishes were planted, nothing will be ready until August or September.

“It’s more about the plan,” she said. “I encourage them to take their paper with where they were going to plant. Now it doesn’t mean their garden actually ended up that way.”  

Students will also be judged on how well they’ve taken care of their garden.

“We’ll have a 4-H judge waiting for them, introduce themselves to them and then they’ll do an interview and do a judging of their garden with that judge,” Johnson said. 

“It’s a big responsibility because it’s outside of school, which puts some of our kids in a little bit of a hot spot because they’re not all from in-town,” Hagen said.

Among the vegetables chosen were a tomato plant, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, potatoes, onions, carrots, brussel sprouts and herbs. Each garden also had a flower to protect against animals.

Students planted in a special garden that was originally part of a grant donation from a sixth grader back in 2009.

“She thought of us, 4-H, and said maybe that could go to the Worth County 4-H,” Johnson said. He also called the grant, over $2,000, significant.

Johnson said there are 21 of the 4-by-4-foot gardens. Since its inception, over 500 students have planted a garden at one point or another.  And by Johnson’s estimation, nearly 300 plants were planted this year.