On Earth Day, students at Canyon Creek School in west Billings had an excuse to go play in the dirt. At a schoolwide assembly on April 22, the approximately 180 students officially inaugurated the new school gardens they designed, planted, and will care for themselves.
“I think it looks good,” said eighth-grader Gus Goldberg, who submitted the winning garden design of raised beds and wheelchair accessible planters. “It will be a great way for kids to connect with the school. I have a sister in first grade. It’ll be cool to be able to come back with her and see it evolve.”
The students already are growing lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes, and more. It’s all part of a growing trend nationwide to provide students with nutritious, locally grown foods and teach them how to grow the foods themselves.
“We’re excited to bring a new form of green, authentic learning to our school,” said Jennifer Tolton, a Canyon Creek teacher. “This garden will strengthen both academics and child nutrition.”
The project is funded by the Student Council and the Yellowstone Valley Citizens Council, an affiliate of Northern Plains Resource Council. The soil was donated by A-1 Landscaping and Village Gardens. Rancher Jeanne Charter donated manure. Each class at the K-8 independent school is participating.
, from starting seeds indoors to preparing the beds for planting.
YVCC, a grassroots citizens action organization, partnered with the school and arranged meetings, researched funding, raised funds, pulled together resources to pitch the idea, and found Master Gardeners and a landscape architect to help put the project together. YVCC is hoping the project with serve as a pilot for other schools to emulate.
Anyone interested in starting a garden at another Billings-area school should contact Svein Newman at the Northern Plains Resource Council at (406)-248-1154.