Tamaques Elementary School in Westfield had been chosen as a recipient of the New Jersey Agricultural Society’s “Learning through Gardening” grant. Led by Tamaques principal, Michael Cullen, and parents Charlotte Lee, Anita Beinhaker and Gerri Rothfleish, the proposal demonstrates the school’s continued emphasis on good nutrition and the district’s wellness initiative.
Previously the school cultivated a garden that was a learning environment for second graders. The grant will enable Tamaques to expand the garden to include participation by students at all levels – first through fifth grade.
“A school garden is a tremendous education tool,” stated Michael Cullen. “It provides hands-on learning for all subject areas, and gives many students their first look at where foods come from and how they grow.”
The goal of the garden expansion is to encourage children to include more fruits and vegetables in their diets, to learn about the sciences associated with growing food and other plants, and to encourage students to live an active life by participating in the planting and maintenance of a garden.
The grant will provide supplies for gardening – including raised beds and seeds, professional development for teachers and consultations with master gardeners. A Best Practices Workshop was held in June at Cook College campus of Rutgers University to kick off the program.
In announcing the awarding of the grant to Tamaques School, Suzanne Macauley of the New Jersey Agricultural Society stated, “Your forward thinking plans and enthusiasm for integrating agriculture into your school’s curriculum are admirable.”