LYNNWOOD — By mid-May the edible garden at College Place Elementary School was already bursting with green. Pea plants’ stringy tendrils were reaching out for a nearby trestle. Onion stalks towered over the leafy tops of carrots and heads of lettuce dotted the soil.
What was imagined as a couple of containers has come to line the inner courtyard of the school. A recent Saturday planting party kicked off the second year of the garden, which founders hope will become a model for other schools in the Edmonds School District.
“Kids are so much more interested in eating veggies they pick,” said Jessica Braun, a first-grade teacher at the school. “Food doesn’t come from the grocery store, it comes from somewhere. Knowing where food comes from is important.”
Braun and Veronica Mun, a fourth-grade teacher, spearheaded the project last year, despite both being novice gardeners. Mostly edibles and flowers were planted during the initial season. A few trees were also added to the grounds.
“It’s been a big learning curve,” Braun said.
Larissa Boyd and her two daughters, Jamie, a second grader at the school, and Kalliope, an incoming kindergartner, have been watching the garden since its inception.
“It’s a science experiment,” Boyd said.
The family came to the first planting last spring and transplanted strawberry plants into 5-gallon buckets. And they reaped the benefit of the garden later in the season bringing home zucchini and summer squash, which were quickly devoured.
This year, the Boyds were busy planting bean seeds in empty spaces they found in the large galvanized steel containers.
Mollie Michaels, a fifth grader, brought her grandfather and parents to the planting party. She was busy depositing three sunflower seeds in each hole that Janice Noe, a member of School Garden Advocates, dug along the school’s front fence.
A fellow student followed behind watering the soon-to-be germinating seeds.
School Garden Advocates, an Edmonds group, and Farmer Frog, a nonprofit headquartered in Maltby, were instrumental in creating the space. Local garden clubs also participated in the project by donating time or plants and helping raise funds.
“There are so many different ways to learn, and the garden is a perfect venue for all different learning styles and abilities,” said Joan Bloom, a founder of School Garden Advocates.
Bloom launched the group in the spring of 2017, with the goal of bringing a garden to every campus in the Edmonds School District. Many members of School Garden Advocates came from the Edmonds Floretum Garden Club. The garden at College Place was the first project for the group, which also helped launch edible patches at Edmonds Heights K-12 this spring.
“Maybe some of the kids will become farmers, or have urban farms,” Bloom said.
Farmer Frog provides trainings and curriculum to help teachers incorporate the space into the classroom.
“The cool thing about the Pacific Northwest is you can plant things all year,” said Mun, one of the leaders of the project.
She uses the garden to teach her students about plant life cycles and often walks her class through the garden, encouraging them to taste different parts of plants.