The Magic of Gardening

“Mighty oaks from little acorns grow,” is a phrase that could well have motivated the students at Pine Crest School to start a small garden.  Of course, the meaning of the phrase is that mighty things come from small beginnings.

Under the guidance of Lower School Introductory Science Teacher Mary Beth Graf, first-grade students decided to try their hand at gardening and have since not only discovered that they each have a “green thumb,” but have the joy of planting seeds and watching them grow.  Their success has spurred them on to expand their thinking from a small garden to, one day, a bountiful harvest.

Walking from Pine Crest’s parking garage to the classrooms and offices, visitors will see a patch of brilliant marigolds nestled in a Lower School alcove.  However, upon closer examination, they will see that there is a carefully planted, budding garden with leafy herbs and vegetables inside the midst of those towering marigolds!  “Surrounding the garden with the marigolds serves as a natural pesticide and hungry rabbit deterrent,” said Graf.  

As part of a unit on soil, Graf’s students donned lab coats and picked through samples of rich humus soil and sand with tweezers. They discussed the similarities and differences of each, then visited the nearby school garden to check up on the progress of the beginnings of several small crops – including kale, tomatoes, and a variety of different squashes.  Graf said she hopes the crops will produce enough for students to sample a mini-smorgasbord of whole foods straight from the earth! 

“The science of agriculture is fascinating and often overlooked. Soil is an amazing natural resource and we really don’t think about what is in soil. It is not just about planting and watching things grow. There is a whole lot more involved,” Mary Beth added.  “We have planted fruits, vegetables and herbs from seed. We have also added hydroponics towers.” 

During a spring harvest on the Boca Raton campus, the students in Miss Wanland’s Pre-Kindergarten class had a tasty lesson in harvesting the potatoes. Chef Don Janezic of SAGE Dining Services magically transformed those potatoes into potato chips, which the students enjoyed at lunch time.

”The primary goal of the garden is to teach students the art and science, and the importance of responsibility and healthy eating,” said Pine Crest President Dr. Dana Markham.  Gardening is a collaborative effort that comes with natural rewards.

Pine Crest School was founded in 1934 by Dr. Mae McMillan, who was known for being progressive and adaptable. 

Pine Crest School has two campuses, one in Boca Raton and the main campus in Fort Lauderdale, with enrollment at more than 2,600 students.  Visit www.pinecrest.edu.or call (954) 492-4103.


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