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Success in full bloom as school gardens grow over the summer

by: REVIEW PHOTO: BARB RANDALL -  Lake Grove fifth-grader Matthew Zimmerman is one of the students responsible for watering the school garden this summer. He also helps his dad, Mike Zimmerman, at the new garden being built at Lake Oswego Junior High.

by: STAFF PHOTO: BARB RANDALL - Growing in Lake Grove's greenhouse is lettuce that will be served in the school lunch program.Lake Grove Elementary — A new greenhouse is the latest addition to the garden at Lake Grove Elementary School, the district’s first garden. The greenhouse is being used to grow lettuce, which will be served for school lunches. Parent volunteers, led by parent Mike Zimmerman, worked with the district’s food services manager, Marcie Christiansen, to ensure the food would be safe for consumption. The lettuce is grown in plastic tubs placed on stainless steel racks. The garden is watered by fourth- and fifth-grade students, and all families are welcome to come and help tend the garden.

Other vegetables are grown in raised bed just outside the greenhouse.

“We harvested garlic just yesterday,” Zimmerman said.

Lake Oswego Junior High — This garden is currently under construction and is being sponsored by the school’s parent association. With the addition of sixth-graders to the junior high campuses, principals and staff were looking for ways to use outdoor space as classroom and performance areas. At Lake Oswego Junior High, volunteers, again led by Mike Zimmerman, a former landscape architect and builder, are taking on an ambitious program to transform a lawn at the front of the building into outdoor classroom and performance space. Trees have been planted alongside the building to provide shade, and a performance gazebo and walkways are planned. Raised beds for vegetables have been planted toward the front of the lawn and are already producing tomatoes and beans. The space will have specific areas for language arts, social studies and science classes to be held.

“Progress is a little slow right now,” said Zimmerman, who with his son Matthew, a fifth-grader at Lake Grove Elementary School, was recently digging out trees in preparation of moving them to a new location. He hopes to recruit more people to help with the project through work parties. Plan on hearing more about this project in the near future.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO: CAROLYNN HEYMANN - The Hallinan garden currently has a bumper crop of TriStar strawberries, some of which were baked in a strawberry pie.Hallinan Elementary — Checking on the progress at Hallinan Elementary’s garden is easy; just view the progress on the Hallinan Gardens’ Facebook page maintained by parent Carolyn Heymann. The garden, one of the more established in the district, is bursting with color and produce right now. TriStar strawberries are thriving, as are the unique “Three Sisters” plantings.

“We didn’t use corn stalks as structure, but here’s an excellent example of beans and squash together in Katie Larson’s class bed. Bumper crop of beans, squash growing inside the ‘teepee,’” Heymann wrote on the Facebook wall.

Hallinan families have taken turns tending the garden over the summer.

River Grove Elementary — The greenhouse refurbished last spring is ready and waiting for teachers to put it to use when classes begin this fall. Flowers are thriving in the raised beds at the front of the school.

Forest Hills Elementary — Landscape architect and Forest Hills parent Heidi Schrimsher reports they are in the early stages of garden development at Forest Hills.

“The principal and teachers have approved the concept and the location of the garden (which will be off the kindergarten, first- and second-grade wing next to the playground) and PTO has given us money in the 2012-13 budget to install 17 raised beds, fencing, irrigation, tool shed, compost area and purchase tools,” she said. “This summer I took a class put on by Growing Gardens entitled School Garden Coordinator Training. It was a week-long intensive on all things school garden. This fall I plan to hold a couple of design charettes with parents and students to find out what the community’s vision is for a school garden. I will then take that material to create a vision and mission statement and a master plan. I actually came up with a conceptual master plan for the principal and PTO, but I want to involve the community to get more ownership and buy-in from a great group of families.”

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