Poynette Elementary School Gardens
In 2011, the Poynette School District’s elementary school students, except for the kindergarteners, moved from the old Arlington Elementary School to the first-through-eighth- grade school in Poynette.
The student garden at the Arlington school was where avid gardener and first-grade teacher Joyce Tomczak taught her students about nature, the food cycle, and caring for the land.
Tomczak, moved with her students to the Poynette school and obtained funding from the Wisconsin Natural Food Associates (WNFA) and the Parents’ Club to help with a garden project there. The funding enabled the students to obtain soil, seeds, tools, and lumber for two 4’x3’x8′ raised garden beds.
The students will learn how to grow and care for their plants and will get to sample the edible results of their work. Tomczak said her first-grade students’ hands-on experience will teach them math skills in measuring and counting, also reading and writing skills in comparing and documenting their activities while tending their gardens.
Tomczak said “The big thing is organic growing. It’s important to teach young children where their food comes from and how they can be a part of its growing.”
“I feel the students get so much out of it when you teach about plants and where they come from,” she said. “They really didn’t get it before. So every time they get out and dig up a potato or carrot, they look and smile and say, ‘You’re right, this thing really is a root, Mrs. Tomczak’”
Tomczak’s first-graders’ activities will include growing plants, harvesting seeds, and other duties. She said vegetables will be the first in the garden, which she hopes will grow in years to come. “We’re putting in two boxes this year, but there’s space out there. I always dream big.”
Randy Krause, board member of WNFA said his group was happy to help out; the project is right in line with its goals. “It’s about promoting natural ways of living – natural healing, natural foods, a more holistic approach to living. We’d like to have projects going on like this around the state.”
Krause’s adult daughter was one of hundreds of students who helped in the garden at the Arlington school.
(Editor’s update June 2013: There are now four raised beds at the school overflowing with plants.)