Parents Get a Lesson in Homegrown Food at Kings Road Back-to-School Night

A string bean grown by young students inside the Kings Road School garden. Credits: Lindsay Ireland
Green Team member and parent volunteer Adrienne Novak takes a bite out of a string bean she handpicked from the garden. Credits: Lindsay Ireland
(Left to right): Green Team members Eric West, Adrienne Novak, Trina Mallik, Owyn Fischer, Kumi Varga and her husband, Eric Varga show off the giant zucchini grown in the school garden. Credits: Lindsay Ireland
(Left to right): Parent volunteers Adrienne Novak, Carman James and Kumi Varga show off the giant zucchini grown in the elementary school garden. Credits: Lindsay Ireland
String beans are ripe for the picking at Kings Road. Credits: Lindsay Ireland
Adrienne Novak readies the garden for the reception. Credits: Lindsay Ireland
The garden reception snack table, featuring zucchini bread and a giant zucchini picked from the school garden. Credits: Lindsay Ireland
A variety of vegetables, including beets and broccoli, grow in the elementary school garden. Credits: Lindsay Ireland

MADISON, NJ – Back-to-school night at Kings Road School on Sept. 13 featured a special reception where parents could visit the school’s communal garden and enjoy homegrown treats before the evening’s events began.

Those in attendance enjoyed zucchini bread made from vegetables picked at Kings Road, and the parent group that oversees the garden brought a rather large zucchini–about a foot in length–as a showpiece for the reception.

A lot of parents know very little about the garden, have not yet seen it and do not know where it is, according to Trina Mallik, founder of the Kings Road Green Team in charge of the garden.

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Mallik said she feels the garden is an extension of Kings Road, and the reception helps parents not only get a better idea of what their kids are learning, but also gives them more information that will help them reinforce garden teachings at home.

There are many “educational and environmental benefits of students learning and having a garden and the hands-on experience of planting vegetables,” Mallik said.

The garden helps kids learn “where food comes from and how easy it is to make (their) own food,” Mallik said, and familiarizes them with the “taste, smell and crunch of (their) own vegetables.”

Many parents thank Mallik for teaching their kids more about homegrown food, gardening and the environment, she said.

The Kings Road Green Team was established in the spring of 2016, and is in charge of garden upkeep and all student lessons, according to Mallik.

All students have two, 45-minute classes held inside the garden–one for each semester. Teaching is 100 percent parent led, with the help of avid gardener, parent volunteer and Newark Academy educator Sarah Fischer.

Torey J. Sabatini School will also have its own garden this year, and plans are in the works to add gardening classes to the district curriculum with the help of ‎District Supervisor of Science and Technology Vin Dionisio, according to Mallik.

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