Central Garden is growing… but they need your help. Purchase a Paper Picket for $5 and help Liberty Memorial Middle School grow their garden through the summer months. Central Garden is a result of the voices in the community coming together for the benefit of students past, present and future. Located on the south side of Liberty Memorial Central Middle School the garden has grown from a small arts based flower and herb garden to a high functioning 4,200 sq ft garden plot servicing the school cafeteria during the fall and early spring and selling excess produce throughout the summer at Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market. The garden is a welcoming space for all classes and is used as a learning tool for science, math, English, and liberal arts curriculums.
Nutrition is an essential building block for student success. Healthy, active, and well-nourished children are more likely to attend school and are more prepared and motivated to learn. Although the primary responsibility of schools is to foster academic achievement, schools have an exceptional opportunity to guide children toward healthier lifestyles while cultivating academic excellence through the implementation and maintenance of a school garden.
Dynamic settings, such as school gardens, foster improved student health. Students who participate in school garden projects discover fresh food and make healthier food choices. They also become more physically active as a result of their participation. Research shows that students will eat the vegetables and fruits that they grow and will continue to eat more vegetables and fruits outside the confines of the garden, as a result of their experience.
Benefits of school gardens are not limited to food alone. Studies show that nutrition education and nutrition programs linked to school gardens improve overall academic achievement. As would be expected, students who study nutrition in the classroom while growing vegetables in outdoor gardens demonstrate an increased knowledge of nutrition and an elevated preference for vegetables. Additionally, educators find that integrating classroom education with experiential learning in school gardens creates the framework for interdisciplinary, collaborative, student-centered, and engaged learning. Several major studies have documented the educational effectiveness of using school gardens as an integrated context for learning. Data from these studies found that over 77 percent of students in environment-based education programs scored higher than their peers across all standardized tests and had higher grade point averages. Realizing the educational and health benefits of a school garden is not only an important step toward better student health, but also a viable link to improved overall education in both primary and secondary school systems.
There are three things you need to make anything grow – soil, sun and water. When it comes to school gardens, participation, organization and funding are equally as important. Central Garden is blessed with good soil in a sunny spot and easy access to an ample supply of water. From the beginning Central Garden has had exemplary participation and organization. Start up funding was relatively easy to come by, thanks to LiveWell Lawrence and multiple local businesses. It is now the hope of students and teachers alike, that the community will continue to cultivate Central Garden through participation and funding. Under the aegis of community support Liberty Memorial Central Middle School students can be free to blossom alongside the seeds that they sow.
Driving along Massachusetts Street past Liberty Memorial Central Middle School you cannot help but notice the genesis of the school garden. Every inch of the garden is a testimonial of community generosity. From soil and amendments to fencing and sculpture, the garden and its anatomy were made possible through altruistic donations of goods and services from a wide spectrum of likely and unlikely hands. Even more astounding than the outpouring and support the school received in the development of the garden is the knowledge that the fruits of everyone’s labors will find their way into the hearts and tummies of students and staff for many, many years to come.
Central Garden belongs not only to the students, but also to the community as a whole. As you walk by Central Garden, take a moment to step inside and marvel at its tenacious beauty as early summer crops begin to bud. Admire the fencing, the arbor, the sculpture, the picnic table, the mulch the compost and the seedlings - all donated by community members, volunteers and local businesses. Watch throughout the summer as the neat rows of straw and dirt become robust and fruitful tributes to the student's and the communities' labors of love.
Liberty Memorial Central Middle School students will be on hand Thursdays at Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market to personally collect picket donations in support of the Central Garden summer program. Students meet twice a week during the school year and three times a week throughout the summer. The program is free and open to all LMCMS students. Younger and older students and community members are welcome to join in too. Students plant, grown, tend, harvest, eat and sell the produce from the garden all summer long at Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market. Until the crops begin producing, Central Garden students will focus on growing their summer program $5 at a time between weeding, planting, composting and learning the ins and outs of what it takes to make a garden grow.
Join the LMCMS students, along with regular indoor market vendors – Stony Ridge Farm, Avery’s Produce, Upward Spirals Bake Goods, Wakarusa Valley Farm, and Iwig Dairy, Thursday, April 19 and April 26 , from 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm, , inside Cottin’s Hardware & Rental, 1832 Massachusetts Street, Lawrence, KS.
Cottin’s Hardware Farmers Market – Indoors! Great food, great people, great fun and now a great cause too!