By Casey Hans
Getting outdoors was never better as it was last week at Tappan Middle School, when students got their hands dirty and played in the garden on one of the nicest days so far this spring.
The Tappan Agrarian Garden was the scene of the annual Spring Seedling Planting on April 13, when about a dozen community volunteers, including parents and several students from the University of Michigan, donated their time to work with students. The day is coordinated through the nonprofit, volunteer-run Agrarian Adventure, which works with teachers and students throughout the year and helps organize volunteers to maintain the garden.
More than 400 students helped to plant seeds, get the greenhouse ready for the season, move compost and prepare beds for planting and generally help to kick off the growing season in the garden.
Ethan Kolderman, a U-M pre-med junior, said he heard about the volunteer day through Circle K, an on-campus student group. “I signed up and I’ve been coming back ever since,” he said. “I’m into nutrition and healthy eating, so this has been a good thing.”
Kolderman and fellow U-M student Martha Johnson, a sophomore who was on site giving students direction, also volunteer with the Tappan Food and Garden Club, a popular after-school club that teaches students about gardening and good eating.
“I don’t know a lot about gardening, but I want to learn,” said Johnson, an economics and international studies major and a member of Circle K. “I’m just here today giving the students some guidance.”
An animated Scott Richardson was encouraging students in the greenhouse to dig deep for crab grass roots. He said he volunteers at the event every year.
Parent Lynda Norton who has a sixth-grader at Tappan, was handing out seeds for students to plant. “This is my first time out here,” said Norton, who is a master gardener herself and helped to get a new school-community garden started last year at Burns Park Elementary.
Donations for this year’s day came from The Ecology Center, Slow Food Huron Valley and some seedlings from the student-run organic garden at Michigan State University.
The Tappan Agrarian Garden is used not only to grow fresh food, but to teach students about healthy eating and sustainable agriculture. Event organizer April Schmidt said the planting day is an annual rite of spring to launch the growing season.
New for this season, she said, is a program that will allow students to sow seeds for salad greens that will be served in the Tappan cafeteria after harvest.
The Agrarian Adventure is always looking for volunteers throughout the growing season to work in the garden. They have occasional weekend workdays and usually have one volunteer evening per week where help is needed to weed the beds and to keep them watered. Contact Schmidt for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org