Hambright Elementary School has added a community garden to its campus, joining three other Penn Manor schools that provide hands-on gardening education to students.
The project is a joint effort involving the Hambright staff, students and PTO members, The Edible Classroom, local businesses, and students and teachers at Penn Manor High School.
The garden provides a unique learning experience for students who will see the life cycle of crops and learn how crops are cared for.
Every classroom at Hambright will participate in two lessons led by Edible Classroom instructors this spring. Hambright students and staff will be planting tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, carrots, along with some unusual crops, including dinosaur kale, dragon tongue beans, and jelly melon.
The project began last year when Hambright PTO member Lauren Weaver met with Grace Julian, co-founder of The Edible Classroom, a nonprofit that provides gardening classes to students at area schools, including Conestoga, Central Manor and Eshleman Elementary.
A Hambright Garden Team was formed, and staff members and parents began soliciting donations and holding fundraisers, including a recent Bingo Night at Hambright.
Giant Foods donated $5,000 for materials, Kreider Mulch and Tudbinks Nursery donated topsoil and bales of potting soil, and Home Depot donated and erected a garden shed on the site. Warner Holdings Garage donated tires to serve as beds for growing herbs.
Penn Manor High School students in Mary Wurzbach’s Introduction to Agricultural Mechanics classes built the garden beds. A grant from the PA Department of Agriculture paid for a garden hose, trowels, trellis, magnifying glasses and other materials.
Hambright held a school-wide “bucket brigade” day March 16, during which all students helped fill the garden beds with soil.
Students will document the progress of the garden on a school website, and many of the crops will be harvested before the end of the school year. At the next school family event on April 14, students will be painting signs to identify the crops.
“Every student and staff member at Hambright has had an impact on the creation of the garden this school year,” said Brad Showalter, a Hambright fourth-grade teacher who has helped lead the project.
“Thanks to everyone’s efforts, this school is providing a unique educational experience that will be used for many years to come.”