Rosarian’s garden has students thinking of sustainability

Rosarian's Garden Has Students Thinking Of Sustainability

February 14, 2018
The Palm Beach Daily News

The three planting beds at Rosarian Academy’s vegetable garden resembled a patchwork quilt recently.

Rich, dark green kale grew in one patch, but the patch next to it was bare, save for a small tag denoting that onions will sprout there soon. In another, green carrot tops hid the orange treasure that lurked underground. On another patch, bees danced from one pale lavender blossom to another on a borage plant.

“We picked our first harvest two weeks ago,” said Rosarian first-grade teacher Mildred Acosta. “We delivered 4 pounds of kale, and beans, lettuce, peas, bok choy, borage and cilantro to the Joshua Catering Co.,” a social enterprise of The Lord’s Place.

The catering company provides full-service catering for businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout Palm Beach County. Proceeds from Joshua Catering benefit the programs and services of The Lord’s Place, which works to end homelessness. Joshua Catering provides jobs to individuals with significant barriers to employment.

The garden is one of the more visible aspects of the school’s Green School Initiative, which promotes campus sustainability, encouraging and nurturing students’ stewardship of their community and the planet. Helping Acosta and her students oversee the garden project was A.J. Azqueta, a 2010 Rosarian grad and owner of Prana Plants & Gardens. In October, Azqueta constructed the garden beds and provided a workshop for the students on how to grow and harvest vegetables and herbs. The first harvest was Jan. 17 and more bountiful harvests are on the horizon.

Students in grades one through eight are involved in the garden project, and they’re all taking their efforts very seriously.

First-grade student Daniel Rubenacker said he sees others checking out the garden each morning to make sure the plants stay healthy and adequately watered. Occasionally, he said, he sees someone sample a bit of kale or another plant.

His favorite is the carrots. “They’re my favorite because they’re crunchy and they taste kind of sweet,” he said.

His classmate, Eden Jarvi, knows a thing or two about home gardening. “We plant tomatoes, peppers and lots and lots of eggplants,” she said, but revealed, “I like the lettuce best.”

The Adrian Dominican Sisters underwrote Rosarian’s Green School Initiative, which has resulted in changes throughout the campus. One was has been in replacing single-use food service containers with reusable glass plates, said middle school Principal Linda Trethewey.

“Every once in awhile, we break one, but that’s OK,” Trethewey said. The order’s support of the program has also allowed the school to buy five filtered water stations so students don’t need to buy bottled water to bring to school.

The program, particularly the garden, has made the students more aware, Acosta says.

“The gardens provide students with a deeper understanding of the relationship they have with nature. Students learn the importance of protecting natural resources and preserving the environment. They also develop a sense of citizenship, by growing crops and donating them to local community-based organizations. The act of community service supports one of Rosarian’s belief statements of educating students to make a positive difference in the world.”

Their recent harvest has them thinking about the future, too.

“I was thinking we could grow watermelons,” said Daniel.

“I was thinking pumpkins,” said Eden.