By Andrew Cluley- AAPS Director of Communications
A lot of steps went into a recent effort to improve the Learning Garden at King Elementary, and students will know how many steps they’re taking while working the garden. The Health Action Council recently presented the students in the King Garden Committee with a check for garden supplies, water bottles, and Fitbits thanks to walking done by University of Michigan students in the Pi Sigma Epsilon fraternity.
Members of U of M’s chapter of PSE averaged over 11,000 steps a day during the Fall Step-It-Up Challenge to win a donation to a local Ronald McDonald House or a school garden project. Members of the fraternity for men and women interested in the fields of sales, marketing, and management chose to support a garden project and the Ann Arbor Public Schools Farm to School Collaborative picked the King proposal to receive the prize.
John Skidmore and several of the other members of PSE were on hand when the students received the donation. Skidmore says unfortunately the students that lead the effort last fall, Jenson Gregory and Lexi Berman are studying abroad this semester, but they wanted to make sure their effort would benefit a school.
The King Garden was selected from a number of great proposals from AAPS school garden projects. AAPS Community Division Executive Director Jenna Bacolor thanked the PSE members for thinking of school gardens. “Donating to this garden means that this money will go a very long way,” she told the U of M students. “Not only the garden club, but lots of students here interact with the garden in various ways, and we know the health and academic benefits of school gardening, so thank you so much.”
The Fitbits will be worn by students when working in the garden, with different teams of students working each week. The students will collect and analyze the data comparing their activity when they are working in the garden compared to days they have regular recess not in the garden. The Fitbit donation was courtesy of Thompson Hine LLP.
The theme for the King Learning Garden this year is Spaghetti, with the students planting a variety of vegetables and herbs that can be harvested and used to make sauce. The garden also has an international bed that this year will have plants to make Indian food, after they grew plants found in Chinese food last year.