Garden Taking Root at Reeces Creek

Soldiers and students build Reeces Creek garden
By: Todd Martin

Sowing the initial seeds for future learning, a group of soldiers added their muscle to the construction of a community garden taking root at Reeces Creek Elementary School.
An idea born out of a broad educational goal, Principal Michelle Taylor said teachers will build science lessons around the garden, but suggested the effort goes beyond academic learning.
An avid gardener herself, she and other planners said they noticed it’s not just the students, but many teachers and other adults unfamiliar with the routine of planting and harvesting.
Every student had a chance to plant a seed, which in some cases have become budding herbs and vegetables soon to be planted in the six beds inside a newly fenced-in 66-by-36-foot space.
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, the school’s adoptive partner, jumped on the idea, helping students and staff lay out landscaping fabric and build beds of cinderblocks.
The idea really began, Taylor said, with a conversation she had with a student, revealing the difficulty of understanding the function of a plant’s root system.
That didn’t sit well with the principal and she knew just how to solve the problem. “I have a huge garden,” she said. “Faces light up when (friends) pick their own fruits and vegetables.”
As an experienced gardener, the educator also knows that the task is difficult and therefore a perfect setting for working through problems.
“The children are going to figure out the solutions to problems,” Taylor said. “They are going to problem-solve. It is the concept of project-based learning.”
Businesses have donated or discounted plants and soldiers have volunteered time. The school also benefited from discarded KISD athletic field turf.
Eventually, each grade level will take on garden care responsibility during different weeks. School leaders plan to invite families to take home the fruits and vegetables of the gardeners’ labors.
“They can all plant and dig and claim their own part of it,” said school campus technology support specialist Scott Heideman, putting in his own time hauling cement blocks to build the beds. “Everyone is learning.”
“It’s very good,” said fourth-grader Chris Moore, one of several students spending part of PE Wednesday working alongside the soldiers to build the garden. “We’re helping the community by planting vegetables,” he said.
“People can come and see. It’s going to look like a big greenhouse,” he said.
“The gratification is going to come,” Taylor said, “when they pull off a vegetable and it tastes better than anything they ever bought in a store.”
A celebration dedicating the garden is in the planning stages scheduled before the end of the school year.