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Beline Obeid

GPA students enjoy first Garden Day

Above, garden co-coordinator Megan Black helps rising third grader Jack Kendall drive a stake into the ground. photo by Megan Black and Mary Anne Brush.

September 04, 2014
"It's like going on a treasure hunt."

"There are a gazillion beans here."

"This is so much fun."

"I can't believe how tall our sunflowers are."

These were a few of the comments from children who participated in Grosse Pointe Academy's first Garden Day on Monday, Aug. 4

Students and parents enjoyed picking vegetables, weeding, deadheading flowers, staking tomatoes and cucumbers, watering, fertilizing, eating popsicles, and more. The vegetables picked were tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, green beans, green peppers, hot peppers, zucchini, and summer squash.

This innovative programming, an outgrowth of GPA's STEM program, ties to the school's roots as a self-sustaining farm back in its Academy of the Sacred Heart days.

The carefully planned garden, which students and teachers refer to as a classroom in spite of its outdoor location, enjoys a bit of whimsy in its organization – a butterfly garden by the gazebo, a pizza lover's delight garden with several varieties of tomatoes and basil surrounded by marigolds, pumpkins and gourds planted by Early School children in The Great Pumpkin Patch – but there is meaning behind the playfulness.

Each grade level, from the preschoolers and kindergarteners in the Montessori Early School to eighth graders in the middle school, is responsible for a garden plot, and each plot has its own unique theme. Many of the themes are related to that grade level's curriculum. For example, The Storybook Garden contains flowers one would find in several children's stories, such as snapdragons, zinnias, lamb's ear, and dahlias. Mr. McGregor and Peter Rabbit's Gardens, named after the popular Beatrix Potter storybook characters, contain produce that any rabbit would risk sneaking into the garden for, such as cucumber, zucchini, summer squash and peppers.

The fourth grade created the "What thyme is it?" garden, which is a biorhythmic garden that features flowers that open in relation to the time of day or location of sun, such as morning glory, Mexican daisies, evening primrose, thyme, 4 o'clock flowers and moonflowers, with stepping stones representing the hours of the day. George and Martha's Garden is the fifth grade's representation of their study of the U.S. Constitution. Finally, middle school students will be conducting experiments in Mendel's Hypothesis Garden, which includes pea plants, a nod to Mendel's famous benchmark genetic studies involving peas.

Future plans now that school is back in session include a flower bed behind the gazebo where middle school students will study soil acidity and how hydrangeas react to various changes.

"The garden is a work in progress," said fourth grade teacher Didi DeBoer, who is garden coordinator along with Technology and Learning Specialist Megan Black. "It has endless possibilities and we are looking forward to seeing what it yields for the coming year."

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