P.S. 304 Youngsters Enjoy Edible Community Garden

Getting young students to eat vegetables is getting easier at P.S. 304, where pre-k classes have planted their own Edible Community Garden.

Inspired by a class garden at another Bronx school, pre-kindergarten teacher Renee C. Jones led the charge to begin a new experience for young learners at P.S. 304 on 2750 Lafayette Avenue.

After getting the approval and support from school principal Joseph Nobile, Jones started the Pre-K Edible Community Garden in April 2010. The program was a large success, and continued to grow this spring.

“This is good because it not only teaches the kids about healthy eating, but it implements an excellent educational experience,” said Renee C. Jones, pre-k teacher and Edible Community Garden coordinator. “Of course we keep the variety of plants basic so that our students have an opportunity to learn more, and they definitely enjoy doing it.”

Although the program focuses on the education of the pre-k classes, it encompasses the entire school, which goes up to fifth grade, according to Jones. Students, as well as parents, are all welcomed to give their input in improving the garden.

Once spring-like weather arrived in April, volunteer parents and the students began planting radishes, potatoes, lettuce, carrots and collards. Parents did all the dirty work, tilling and weeding the land, while children planted the seeds, watered the plants, and learned about the items they were growing.

In just two months, the vast variety of nutritious treats were all grown and ready to eat. On Thursday, June 16, students, parents, and faculty, met at the garden to celebrate another success.

“It really would not be possible without the efforts and contributions of our students parents,” Jones said. “They love being part of the program and seeing the kids so interested in all of it makes us all happy. It’s time consuming and it takes a lot of planning, but we all enjoy it and it certainly pays off.”

All in attendance were able to take a look at the completed work by the young students, as well as enjoy some light and healthy refreshments that included a freshly made garden salad with a homemade dressing.

The hardest part, Jones said, is to make sure that the school is able to purchase the proper gardening tools suitable for the 72 pre-k students to use. Although the program ends up being a little expensive, P.S. 304 has no problem funding the healthy and educational program.

Lisa Reilly, parent coordinator of the Edible Community Garden, also announced during the festivities that a $200 grant was secured and the money will be used towards next year’s garden.

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