This Monday, the Williamson Health and Wellness Center hosted the first of a two-part workshop series with students at Living Water Daycare in Williamson.
I, Maria Arnot, the Williamson Grow Appalachia coordinator who works for the Diabetes Coalition as a health and wellness promoter, partnered with a farmers market vendor Arlene Starr to lead a workshop with approximately 30 students yesterday.
The director of the daycare approached me several months ago stressing interest in both purchasing food from the farmers market, and also in growing their own food. She noted that her students eat a ton of vegetables, including lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. Unfortunately, until now they have been purchasing all of their produce from Food City and Walmart… After this discussion I knew that her preschool would be the perfect fit for a school garden. However, they didn’t have a lot of space outside… so we decided to experiment with our first living wall.
Unfortunately, it was put on backorder. So, thanks to the flexibility of the students and teachers, we decided to go ahead with the workshop and head back later this week when the wall arrives for part 2 of the workshop.
It was an awesome 1.5 hour planting session on the first day. While this was my first experience with leading children that young (ages 1-6) and I was not exactly prepared, nor anticipating how inattentive they would be, it was extremely successful and beneficial. After conducting a brief discussion on the parts of a plant and the needs of a plant, we let them do their own planting.
Each student began by planting a few seeds in a clear, recycled plastic cup. They were able to select their own seed from a variety we have collected the past couple of months. Arlene and I, as well as one of my co-workers Kayla Whitt, went around and helped each student plant and water their seeds.
Althought they started losing their attention a bit after this section, the students and their teachers were interested and engaged enough to then sow plants that we had purchased from a local farmers into big outdoor planters. They planted cucumber, zucchini, and tomato plants as well as a large variety of seeds. We will be going back this Friday to install the living wall– a small planter that will hang on the wall and grows vertically. I am excited to see if this will be a success or not! I will keep you posted 🙂