The third graders at St. Benedict Cathedral School are on their way to becoming HEROES.
The HEROES Initiative, which stands for Healthy, Energy, Ready, Outstanding, Enthusiastic Schools, is a three-year, school-based health grant provided by Welborn Baptist Foundation. This program gives financial and technical support to increase opportunities for healthy eating and active living for the school community.
The third graders at St. Ben’s, along with their teachers Donna Woehler and Madalyn Steckler, and grant coordinators Laurie Schopmeyer and Jon Day, are using two innovative garden towers to plant organic foods and herbs as part of a pilot project with the initiative.
“I think the process from seed to the finished product and all that goes into it is fascinating to the kids,” says Schopmeyer. “Giving them the chance to grow something that they can eventually taste is important — making them aware that healthy, organic food tastes good, is good for their bodies, and can be grown by them.”
Third grader Karter Stratman, 9, says his favorite part of being involved with the garden tower is seeing all of the plants grow.
“I like the peppermint plants the best,” says Stratman. “I learned that it smells good and it gets rid of your headaches when you rub it on your temples.”
The garden towers came from the Garden Tower Project, a small company in Noblesville, Indiana, whose mission is to help transform the face of gardening and food sustainability in the community with this next generation of patio farms.
Since acquiring the two towers through the Welborn Foundation Grant, the students have planted lettuce, kale, herbs, and pansies while Woehler and Steckler work each step of the growing process into lesson plans for every subject.
“Once we got everything settled and put the towers on their dollies, we had all of the kids go out there with notepads and keep track of everything that was happening,” says Woehler.
“We talked about the sequencing in reading class,” says Steckler. “So, for their assignment, they had to describe the sequence of growing the plants by constructing complete sentences using first, next, and last, and write it in paragraph form. They actually really enjoyed that. I think they felt like little scientists.”
The teachers hope to continue the project after the three-year HEROES Initiative.
For more information on the Garden Tower Project, visit gardentowerproject.com. For more information about St. Benedict Cathedral, visit saintbenedictcathedral.org. For more information on Welborn Baptist Foundation, visit welbornfdn.org.