Tamaques Elementary School in Westfield has received a $2000 grant from the Whole Kids Foundation and FoodCorps in support of the school’s outdoor educational garden in which fresh fruits and vegetables are grown by the students.
The students have engaged in the planting and harvesting of their garden, with a variety of lessons incorporated into the project. In addition to the obvious health and science aspects of the garden, teachers have incorporated other curriculum, such as math activities where students measure the perimeter of beds, volume of growth, ratio of seeds to sprouts, and create charts based on estimates and actual production.
At the beginning of this school year, fifth graders harvested eggplant that they had planted as fourth graders and then enjoyed eggplant dinners. Third graders harvested pepper and made salsa, while basil was ground into pesto and distributed to all grade levels.
They picked Verbena and Mint leaves, which were served as tea with the Stevia herb that the students planted used as a sweetener.
At a faculty meeting, salad from the garden was served.
The Tamaques School garden was proposed by Principal, Michael Cullen, and developed by the Tamaques PTO with the assistance of faculty, staff and students. Mr. Frank Fuzy, third grade teacher, has taken a leadership role in the garden’s development. In addition to building the garden beds and assisting with lesson planning, Mr. Fuzy has gained the generous support of local businesses including Bartell’s Garden Center, Westfield Lumber, and Home Depot. More plans are underway for construction of an outdoor classroom.
The Whole Kids Foundation grant marks the second one for Tamaques. Last year, Tamaques was chosen as a recipient of the New Jersey Agricultural Society’s “Learning through Gardening” grant.
The mission of the Whole Kids Foundation is to improve children's nutrition and wellness with the goal of ending the childhood obesity epidemic. As a result of his keen interest in this issue and the strides he has made in his own school, Mr. Cullen has been invited to serve on a panel of speakers during the 2013 School Garden Conference in Princeton, New Jersey.