UW-Stout News Story

Students help children with spring planting at greenhouse

March 25, 2013

Children from the Child and Family Study Center at UW-Stout are way ahead of schedule: They’ve already started their spring planting.

Three- and four-year-olds from the center visited the greenhouse in Jarvis Hall Science Wing on a recent day. With the help of students from the university’s Sustainable Agriculture Education Association, they planted vegetable and herb seeds in 24 little paper cups.

UW-Stout student Mariana Russell helps children from the Child and Family Study Center plant seeds at the greenhouse in Jarvis Hall Science Wing. First they scooped dirt from big containers and filled the cups. Then they poked holes in the dirt with their fingers and dropped in seeds for sweet red peppers, basil, lavender and sage.

“Some of the children were a little leery of getting their hands dirty, but some put their arms into the dirt up to their elbows,” said Ellen Jordan, SAEA communications director.

The plants were watered and left to grow in the greenhouse. When warm weather arrives, SAEA students will take the budding plants to the child care center and help children transplant them to an outdoor garden. The soil will be enriched with compost from a worm garden started previously at the center by SAEA members and the children.

During the spring and summer, SAEA volunteers will return to help children tend the garden. The goal is to harvest the peppers and use the herbs to make salsa, said Jordan, an applied science major from Marshfield.

The growing cycle will be completed in the fall when students help children clear out the old plants and winterize the garden with leaves and coffee grounds, the latter from Brew Devils coffee shop in the Memorial Student Center.

Ellen Jordan“The most rewarding part is to see how excited the kids are to get their hands dirty,” Jordan said. “We also like to get our hands dirty, so it’s nice to take a step back from the books and put what we preach into practice.”

The child care center is at 811 Sixth St. E. and in Heritage Hall, where there is a facility for infants and toddlers. Early childhood education majors work as student teachers and graduate assistants at CFSC.

This is the third year of the SAEA partnership with CFSC, according to Trevor Peterson, an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer and food security coordinator at UW-Stout.

Judy Gifford, CFSC director, says the partnership “is wonderful to watch as it evolves. Modeling sustainability and a positive attitude of caring for our environment, our college ‘garden buddies’ work side by side with the children throughout the gardening process. The combined sustainability efforts teach everyone involved.”

To see a video of the spring planting event, click here.

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