With summer just around the corner, League School students and staff have been busy at the school’s Abundance Garden making preparations for a bounty of flowers, herbs and fresh veggies.
Starting in the spring of 2022, the nearby Norfolk Agricultural High School graciously invited League students to their campus and allowed them access to a section of their field. Students can learn the steps necessary to farm and grow their own fruits and vegetables in a collaborative and hands-on environment throughout the entire year. From clearing the field, planting seeds, watering and maintaining the area, to ultimately harvesting their own crops, the students gain a wealth of knowledge and skills needed for future successes.
This year, job coach Selena Zubrowski has even bigger plans for the space. During the winter months she worked with vocational students to lay down mulch and wood chips in preparation for the warmer weather, and helped students build a stone wall around a portion of the roughly quarter-acre space. She used a no-till method to keep the soil system intact for future years.
Among the vegetables planted in the garden so far are lettuce, carrots, beets, parsnips, cauliflower, spinach, zucchini, summer squash, leeks, tomatoes and peppers, as well as garlic and saffron.
Zubrowski also plans to use sunflowers to act as a wind barrier for the vegetables once they start to grow. Students collected sunflower seeds from last year, dried them, and replanted them as a way to learn more about the farming process.
Several other flowers will be planted as well throughout the garden.
“The kids just love working in the garden, and can have fun while learning at the same time,” Zubrowski said. “I like to ask them questions along the way, and they learn so much by working with their hands and seeing the garden grow throughout the year.”
The success of the garden will have even greater impacts, as students in League’s culinary arts program will turn the freshly grown produce into foods like salsa and tomato sauce. Learning about farming and eating hand-grown vegetables will also serve as an important reminder for the students about making healthy choices and portion control when eating.
Lastly, the school once again plans to donate portions of what is grown to food-insecure families at League School or to local food shelters.
“Being in the garden is really great,” said Jimmy, one of the students who regularly works both in the garden and also helping to build and maintain the space around the property. “We learn about what plants and flowers like and how they grow, and we get to be outside.”
League School thanks Norfolk Agricultural High School for their generosity in lending the space for the Abundance Garden, and for supplies needed to help the space grow and flourish.