The Stella Niagara G.R.O.W.S. (Growing and Reaping Outdoors With Students) Project aims to fortify the academic curriculum by providing our students with the opportunity to directly participate in growing a garden. Our garden, which is exactly 105 feet by 20 feet, is located in the Northeast corner of our property. Each grade, from the Montessori pre-k program all the way up through 8th grade, works with a partner grade or teacher in growing a variety of herbs, vegetables, fruits, flowers, and dye plants. These teams also actively plant, water, weed, maintain, and harvest our crops. The project is coordinated by a committee of teachers who organize planting, maintenance, and harvesting activities.
The Stella G.R.O.W.S. Project merges with the curriculum in many ways. Science connections involve plant growth and why fruits and vegetables are a good source of nutrition. Social Studies connects through studying how various conditions such as labor, weather conditions, and materials affect annual yield, and consequently supply and demand. Math classes use the garden for statistics, graphing, and making predictions. The reading curriculum benefits from this project as the children read about their plants, and write about their experiences. Even cultural connections are made including using plants as dye in Art to using produce as ingredients for salsa, made fresh by the students in Spanish classes.
Our garden is comprised of a permanently planted section and an annual planting area. The permanent garden includes roses, various perennial plants, herbs, strawberries, and two rows of grape vines. Selected flowers and roots will become dye and plant-based fiber for art projects. Herbs and aromatic flowers are used for making sachets. We also use flowers to make floral arrangements for religious services held in the Fall and Spring.
In the annual section, we grow ingredients required for making food such as tomato sauce and salsa. We have also grown peas, beans, pumpkins, and sunflowers.