With a puckered mouth and eyes squeezed shut, a Bedford Village Elementary School student did a wiggly dance before sharing his opinion.
“That was actually good,” he said, continuing to chew on the sour sorrel leaf he had just tasted. He and his classmates in Bianca De La Cruz’s fifth-grade class were in the school’s garden for a workshop with Abby Einstein from Kaleidoscope Garden Designs.
The class was working on putting the garden to bed for the winter. Broken into two groups, half of the students harvested tomatoes and tasted peppers, sorrel and chives while the other half scooped up compost and sifted out rocks, debris and anything that had not yet broken down. Halfway through the session, they switched tasks.
Throughout the workshop, students were delighted to call out their observations.
“I found a centipede!” one exclaimed, eyeing his hand shovel closely.
“Ooooh, that pepper was so good,” another told her group.
Other students were excited to share their knowledge, calling out the names of plants they saw or sharing what they had learned.
“Decomposers really help to break things down, but we have to help them first,” one student told the class.
Einstein talked to students about the compost cycle and explained how the work they were doing would create healthy compost while setting the garden up for success in the future. She also pointed out which plants were ripe for picking and which were better suited for the compost pile.
“Look at these fruits. Some are OK. Some aren’t,” she said, pointing to the big, green heirloom tomatoes they were picking. “I want you to harvest anything that looks nice. Anything that looks really rotten — if it’s drippy and yucky — it will go in the compost.”
Over at the compost bin, De La Cruz reminded students to be mindful when sifting.
“We want to make sure that we are sifting carefully,” she said. “The more nutrients we add, the better our next harvest will be.”
Students enjoyed taking turns and working together to both scoop and sift compost and cut down vines to be added to the compost bin.
“Your hard work is going to be what makes our plants grow so beautifully in the next season,” De La Cruz told her students.