A garden grows in Alanson
Grant helps Alanson sensory garden
Tonia Keller, coordinator of Alanson Public Schools Stretch program (left) and Kayla Schlappi describe the future seedlings which will be planted in the schools new sensory garden when weather permits. Keller and the Stretch program received a grant from the National Gardening Association for $500 from Home Depot to help build the garden. (Debbie McGuiness/News-Review / April 22, 2013)
ALANSON Tonia Keller, coordinator of Alanson Public Schools Stretch program, is very excited for spring and summer to arrive in Northern Michigan.
The Stretch program recently received a National Gardening Association grant through Home Depot, and Keller plans to use the $500 grant to design and build a sensory garden at the school.
Like many Northern Michigan gardeners, the children who attend the Stretch before school/after school and summer program have already planted some vegetable and flower seeds indoors, getting a jump on the growing season.
Keller points to the peat pots filled with soil under a grow light in the school Stretch room.
We have cucumbers and sunflower seeds planted. The children are anxious for warmer weather to get pumpkin seeds planted, as they are hoping to grow 400-pound pumpkins this year, she said.
Four years ago Keller began a garden at the school for the kids in day care. The children plant the seeds and seedlings, water and weed the garden and play in the mud. Last year the kids set up a vegetable stand and sold vegetables, by donation, to parents and the community. Money from the stand funded the purchase of some seeds for planting this year. The vegetable stand helps to teach counting and social skills, said Keller.
The garden includes a wildflower garden, along with bat houses and bird houses.
We also teach the children about seed-saving, how we dont always need to buy seeds. They love to eat right from the garden, fresh peas, corn, everything. Right now the children are building instruments out of cans and recycled objects for the new garden. We are starting seeds for the sensory garden, for children to see, touch, taste, said Keller.
She is assisted by Kayla Schlappi, an after school teacher and part of the 21st Century summer program. So far, the summer program will have 27 students, this year will include ages 3 and 4.
When asked what they like about the gardens and the summer program, the students answer: I love the berry picking, Eating the vegetables, and Playing in the mud!
Visit www.garden.org; www.alansonvikings.net.