Tamaques Elementary School teacher Frank Fuzy has been named the New Jersey Agricultural Society’s 2012-2013 Teacher of the Year for his work in educating children about the importance of New Jersey agriculture.  He has earned an all-expense paid trip to the “National Ag in the Classroom” conference to be held in Minneapolis the end of June, which will include admission to teacher workshops and lectures.  The award presentation is taking place on April 5 at the Forsgate Country Club in Jamesburg, NJ.  “You have much to be proud of and New Jersey’s agricultural community commends you for your work,” wrote NJ Agricultural Society’s President, Noble McNaughton.

The Tamaques School community has been very active in creating an outdoor educational garden project, which integrates all levels of curriculum. 

During the winter while the school’s outdoor garden was dormant, Fuzy led the building of simple greenhouses which students helped construct on the school’s property. After the basic construction, students placed a bucket in each bed which would help maintain the humidity and keep in the warmth that was acquired during the day.

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“Our gardens produce a wide variety of crops,” stated Fuzy. “During the winter season, crops were grown according to the order of what had to be harvested and used because of the changes in weather.  They included several varieties of lettuce, then radishes, and most recently spinach,” he explained.

Several grade levels were involved in the planting, with the spinach bed providing three grade levels with fresh spinach tasting right up to March 8, and fifth grade students are now harvesting spinach from the greenhouses.  This will be the third harvest since the seeds were planted in November.

“The cold weather has given the spinach a nutty flavor that is truly unique,” remarked Fuzy. The radish bed is still producing radishes as well.

Fuzy has recently begun to transplant snap peas that his students started in windowsill pots on the classroom windowsill. Third graders have been outside and planting the peas into rows in the greenhouse several times over the last few weeks.

Fuzy and his Principal, Michael Cullen, agree that overall this year has been a very successful one. Tamaques students have grown and sampled more crops than they ever imagined. Students have sampled eggplant parmesan, salsa, basil pesto, salad with fresh radish, mashed turnips with fresh mint tea, and several samplings of spinach.

Home Depot has donated materials for the greenhouse, Bartell’s has donated seeds, and parent volunteers have been eager to help.

“I am ecstatic about being involved in the Tamaques garden and cannot wait to see what we can accomplish this season,” summed up Fuzy.