Archive

Learning Garden planned for pupils at Gateway’s Evergreen Elementary | TribLIVE.com
Monroeville

Learning Garden planned for pupils at Gateway’s Evergreen Elementary

Beginning next academic year, students at a Gateway elementary school will learn firsthand about eating healthy.

Grow Pittsburgh and the Kitchen Community are providing a grant to build a Learning Garden at Evergreen Elementary School. The garden, essentially an outdoor classroom, will give students the opportunity to develop, build and harvest their own vegetables.

“We started a community garden a few years ago and we tried to put it together as best as we could,” said Michael Matteo, Evergreen principal.

“But with this, we’re starting fresh and it’s going to expand so much of what we currently offer.”

The raised garden will be built in a 10- by 20-foot fixture behind the school, atop a large asphalt space.

Construction will begin once school lets out for the summer, and representatives from Grow Pittsburgh will help with the design, installation and two years of programming and teaching once vegetables are in the ground.

The Colorado-based Kitchen Community has built 300 Learning Gardens in four regions nationally. Grow Pittsburgh, a local nonprofit that started in 2008, aims to teach the importance of agriculture in urban areas.

In 2016, the two organizations embarked on a mission to build 50 Learning Gardens within Allegheny County schools over a four-year span.

One year into that effort, Evergreen is one of the first suburban schools to be chosen and the Monroeville garden will be one of the first 25 built.

Carla Lukehart, Learning Garden project manager with Grow Pittsburgh, said the program can be a start to engaging kids from urban neighborhoods with nature.

“Kids in these areas don’t have a lot of green space, but a lot of people don’t know that gardens can exist in places that don’t,” Lukehart said.

Each school must apply and qualify to receive a grant from Grow Pittsburgh, one requirement being that at least 50 percent of the school population must be eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches.

“We want to give kids opportunities who may not have access to healthy food on a daily basis,” Lukehart said.

This, Matteo said, is exactly why he wants to bring it to Monroeville.

“We have students that don’t have the opportunity to have a garden at home,” Matteo said. “This is something that could give that to them.”

Sprouting in fall 2018 will be a plethora of vegetables such as kale, carrots and pea shoots. The garden will be part of the curriculum, and students will be directly involved in the planning and planting process each season.

“The program from Grow Pittsburgh is all about how to grow your own food, so one of the goals is to learn how to prepare a fresh salad that comes straight from the garden,” Matteo said.

As interest grows, Matteo hopes the garden will thrive.

“It started as baby steps and we’re just excited to see this grow,” Matteo said. “We hope to see expansions and interest from people in the community who want to help us out.”

Long-term, both Matteo and Lukehart would like to see the gardens producing enough to incorporate in school lunches.

The school donates vegetables to the Garden City United Methodist Church Food Pantry from the small garden there now, but with such a large expansion, donations are expected to increase greatly.

“It’s meant to teach, but it’s partly to give back, as well,” Matteo said.

Christine Manganas is a contributing writer.


TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.