Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Lessons Learned in School Garden

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Lessons Learned in School Garden

Article excerpt

Students at Venice Elementary School learned how to make biodegradable pots for native plants last week.

The program on March 6 was the second phase of a grant received from the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.

With combined efforts from grant coordinator and retired professor Kay Bannon and Lynn Grimes, an educator from the Linders Foundation, students got their hands dirty as they learned about native plants and the importance of saving the estuaries. They also measured, named and described their plants; the information would later be logged in a journal to track their plants; progress.

After transplanting starter plants, students were encouraged to take them home to plant in their own backyards.

The three-phase program began last month when Bannon visited the school last month to read from her book, "How Gimble Gopher Tortoise Found a New Home," and teach about the importance of saving local estuaries.

"It's a plea for habitat preservation," said Bannon, and taught students the meanings of words like "estuary" and "watershed."

Bannon said her interest was piqued when she moved to the area and a gopher tortoise greeted her in her driveway.

"He was very much in danger of losing his home completely," she said. "His borough houses about 360 other animals. So if he disappears, it has a great impact on our wildlife here in Florida."

The intent of the school program is to get more native plants growing in the community.

"They are better to have around your house because they don't require a lot of water, and they are for this climate," said science teacher Dana Cales, who is assisting with the program.

Fourth-grader and aspiring gardener Haley Lanier said she is learning about native plants.

"They need a lot of water," she said. "They also need lots of hydration and lots of carbon dioxide that we breathe out. Once we breathe out, they breathe out as oxygen, so we need plants or else we wouldn't be on this earth. …

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