Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Growing Young Minds like (and with) a Garden

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Growing Young Minds like (and with) a Garden

Article excerpt

The kids could not have been more enthusiastic.

I spent a good part of the morning last week on a tour of the gardens outside the Mallinckrodt Academy in the Northampton neighborhood. The tour guides were a happy group of third-graders who were eager to share their knowledge of the garden.

"My favorite is the orchard, because we get to see how the plants are doing and how the fruit does on trees," said 9-year-old Lilly Jean-Baptiste, who, like the others, is in a class taught by Anne Mayes.

That's right, an orchard grows outside Mallinckrodt Academy, a public elementary school for gifted students. It's a small orchard four apple trees, plus a few pear trees, peach, wild plum and currants but it is growing in the school's front yard. And even though the trees will not begin to bear significant amounts of fruit until after the students leave the school, the students say they are happy knowing that the work they do today will benefit those who come after them.

Apple trees were chosen to be planted at the students' request. They came in second, after bananas. That's why there are apples. A local orchard donated the still-young apple trees, and parents donated the others.

But there is much more to the garden officially known to the school's administration as the Outdoor Instructional Classroom than trees.

One raised bed after another overflows with lettuce, fennel, sage, cabbage, garlic, potatoes and kale. One bed grows peas, which have been ravaged by rabbits, and onions, which were planted in an unsuccessful attempt to deter the rabbits. Strawberries grow in another.

"You can see that critters come in and try to eat the strawberries," explained Amelia Marquart, 9.

And mint, as it is wont to do, has almost completely taken over another bed. The students are encouraged to eat the mint to keep it from getting out of control.

"It reminds me of toothpaste, and I think it is fun to eat because it tingles my tongue," opined 9-year-old Faith Johnson.

The garden has a specific instructional purpose: "We're bringing the outside inside," said school principal DeAndre Thomas. …

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