Hazelwood community garden beginning to show signs of life

October 4, 2012

By Christina Corrales-Toy

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Peter O’Donoghue shows his daughter Micaela, a kindergartner at Hazelwood Elementary School, how to maneuver a wrench as they construct garden boxes for the school’s community garden Sept. 15.

When Hazelwood Elementary School teacher Kate Ingalls reflects upon her childhood, one of the many things that stands out is her work in the family garden.

“I grew up digging in the dirt and growing things,” she said. “My dad always let me have a corner of the garden to do whatever I wanted to do.”

Now, the second-grade teacher wants to bring that outdoor experience to the school’s students by establishing a Hazelwood community garden filled with trees, plants and vegetables.

Ingalls said she wanted to see some sort of garden on the grounds since she started at the school eight years ago, but because of family commitments, it wasn’t until this past year that she really had the time to devote herself to the project.

On Sept. 15, parents from the Hazelwood PTSA, students and community volunteers gathered at the school to begin phase one of the garden project.

Volunteers came in their best gardening gear, armed with tools and gloves to do the job. Workers spent the morning spreading wood chips donated by the Davey Tree Expert Co. and constructing garden boxes, which will eventually be filled with soil and plants, Ingalls said.

She said she envisions the garden will be the ultimate educational tool, incorporating curriculum from the Renton School District.

“I wanted to extend the learning for the kids at Hazelwood,” she said. “Some kids really need that experience to be outdoors, and to take what they are learning inside and connect it to something in the real world. I think it is really important.”

Ingalls studied the science units at each grade level and found relevant connections to the garden for each one.

When second-graders begin their unit on air and weather, Ingalls said she plans to use the garden, which will have a rain gauge and a thermometer, as a teaching tool.

“We’ll measure rainfall and temperature and explore how they affect the growing of the garden,” she said. “We can explore what season is best and how much light plants need. So, I can see us conducting experiments where we have some plants in the light and then cover some up. “

As first-graders tackle their unit on new plants, Ingalls suggested that teachers use the garden to further explore the subject.

“They can come out in the garden, they can plant seeds, they can plant new plants from stems, they can plant new plants from bulbs and tubers — there are all sorts of extensions that they can do,” she said.

Whatever it is, Ingalls stressed that every student in the school can benefit from the garden.

Rosalind Vazquez, the Hazelwood PTSA president, said the group wants to support the community garden project in any way that they can.

“This year, we made sure to add the garden as one of our committees so that we could really rally around it, and then as we raise money in the community with our fundraisers, then we can help with budgets and plan and schedule to get the materials and things,” she said.

Vazquez, who along with her children, dedicated a Saturday morning to assist with the project, said she is excited about the potential for new educational opportunities with the garden.

“The whole school is going to benefit,” she said. “It will enable the kids to really have some hands-on experience understanding where their food comes from, and just the whole cycle of growing, in a real practical sense.”

Volunteers will continue working on the garden in the coming weeks, and Ingalls said she is grateful for the support.

“I mean, these people showed up on a Saturday morning at 9,” she said. “So, it’s really coming together.”

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One Response to “Hazelwood community garden beginning to show signs of life”

  1. Kate Ingalls on October 8th, 2012 8:15 pm

    In addition, we are seeking community members to be garden volunteers, by taking small groups of students into the garden to do maintenance (weeding, watering, etc). This would be during a school day and arrange with the classroom teacher. Come watch us grow!

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