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Student Learning Grows at Como Park Elementary Garden

Students plant seeds in a garden at Como Park Elementary School.

Students at Como Park Elementary received some hands-on learning as they spent time in the school’s garden. Beyond the work of clearing the soil and planting seeds, the garden creates chances for students to experience foods they may not otherwise try. “It’s an outdoor classroom,” said Jacquelyn Galas, a second grade teacher who manages the Como Park Garden. 

The garden began in 2008, and has grown over time as it has received support from the school’s PTO along with community sponsors and grants, and volunteering efforts from across the school community. The garden can also help classroom instruction, Galas said, and is also used by the school’s Garden Club. “You can come out here with almost any science unit and integrate this into your work,” Galas said. “The kids love coming here.”

The year-round community effort has grown crops including beans, zucchini, beets, Swiss chard, peppers, tomatoes and carrots. During the summer, families volunteer time to take care of watering and weeding the garden and its plants. “The whole community buys in, and we have a lot of parent support,” said Molly Marcinelli, the school’s principal. 

When the fruits and vegetables from the garden are ready in the fall, students harvest them, and the school chooses a day for the food to be included in lunches served by “Farmer Marcinelli” in the school’s cafeteria. Marcenelli said the student’s knowledge of where the food comes from helps encourage them to eat it.  “If you watch what the students do, they take it,” she said. “Then they take seconds.” 

A sign reads "Como Park Garden."

Students work on an art project at a picnic bench.