TEMPLE, TX — Four-year-olds at Meredith-Dunbar Early Childhood Academy have the green thumb after winning a second place award from the Texas Master Gardener Association for their hard work, research and dedication.
The idea to begin gardening started when the school wanted to teach students where food originates from and the importance of growing your own supply.
They called on the Bell County Master Gardeners to help the 4-year-olds grow things like romaine lettuce and kale. The kids are amazed every day by what they can accomplish. Although, it's the way they are growing these vegetables that stick out from the rest.
The children experimented in using sustainable ways to garden by planting seeds in eggshells and newspaper pods. After a few months, the eggshell pods seemed to be the winners.
Marjorie Gillmeister, youth director of the Bell County Master Gardeners, says the idea to plant in eggshells stemmed from her son when they were washing some to compost in their home garden.
Wanting to bring her son's idea into a reality, she chose to experiment with the pre-K students at Meredith-Dunbar. When the eggshell pods were so successful, Gillmeister chose to nominate the students for the Texas Master Gardener Association, who awarded them with the second place prize.
"Research shows that our kiddos need, especially at risk kids that we have at Meredith, they need to be in the soil. they need to learn how to plant where the vegetables come from," Principal Lynn Brock said.
The students are always so excited to go out and tend to the garden. They even get to harvest their own plants and make salads when the vegetables are ready to pick.
"They definitely love it, if they can pick to do one thing they'll pick to come to the garden," Brock said.
Pre-K teacher Kerri Sanchez loves bringing her students outside each day to learn. She said being able to take them to the garden is her favorite part.
"I just love their reaction to it. They watched it from a seed to growing into these big plants and they were so excited when they were able to harvest it and eat it," Sanchez said.
She says It's important for these kids to learn where their food comes from and how to grow their own garden.
"They don't get this chance to garden at home and we love to give them that opportunity to give that real life experience," Sanchez said.
In absolute awe, these future gardeners are soaking up all they can.
"Their minds are sponges and they're so curious and if we instill sustainability in their minds at a young age who knows what impact they'll have," Gillmeister said.
As the partnership continues, the school hopes to invite parents to garden with their children and hopefully have access to food whenever they need.