They gathered the dirt, planted their seeds, watered the soil and spoke encouraging words to their plants while interacting with garden-loving college students.
Roughly 30 excited boys and girls from Urban Youth Impact’s after-school program for inner-city children gathered around the raised beds of PBA’s community garden Tuesday and took a look at thyme, kale, succulents and wildflowers growing in the raised beds.
PBA student Sophia Secrest, who organized the day, encouraged the kids from Urban Youth to smell and touch the thyme growing on her plot. As they passed the succulents, she explained, “They normally grow in the desert.” To the students standing around the kale, she said “You know what that is.”
The students from Urban Youth Impact introduced themselves to the PBA students by passing around a lemon, lime and sweet potato while stating their names and favorite plants, such as watermelon, dragon fruit, roses, kale, raspberries, apples and sunflowers. Ethaniel Dueck, a nursing student, started by sharing his favorite plant: zucchini.
After the introductions and the garden tour, PBA student Sarah Mae Rossman, a sophomore studying elementary education, gathered the kids around for storytime. She read “The Carrot Seed,” a children’s book by Ruth Krauss, adding voices, faces and hand motions. At the end of the story, the kids said they learned about patience and believing in themselves.
For their final activity, the youngsters lined up and received tiny pots to fill with soil from a mound next to the garden. They packed the soil, used their pinkies to make holes for the seeds and planted their sunflowers. Grace Keeter, an intercultural studies major, along with Dueck, Secrest and Rossman, helped them with their gardening project. After they finished, their teacher from Urban Youth Impact lined them up again to sprinkle their seeds with a watering can.
One little boy, taking to heart Rossman’s advice to speak encouragingly to the plantings, carried his pot around saying “you got this.”
Before they left, the students said their favorite part of the day was exploring the garden. The garden is led by the Student Government Association’s Sustainability Committee and opened in January. PBA students, faculty and staff can sign up to tend a plot over the course of a semester, said Secrest, an intercultural studies major.
Photo 1: PBA student Sophia Secrest gives a tour of PBA's community garden to elementary school students in the after-school program at Urban Youth Impact.
Photo 2: Sarah Mae Rossman reads "The Carrot Seed" to children from Urban Youth Impact who visited PBA's community garden. The students were excited to plant their own sunflower seeds.
Photo 3: Ethaniel Dueck, a nursing student, hands out flower pots to youngsters from Urban Youth Impact.