Gardening at St. Nicholas

Gardening at St. Nicholas School

Taking care of one another, ourselves and the earth are at the core of St. Nicholas School’s philosophy. The new garden program at St. Nicholas is a beautiful expression of these values. Students learn how to grow and care for plants, feed their bodies with whole foods and work together towards a common goal, while absorbing larger lessons on sustainability and stewardship of the Earth. School gardening inspires awe and respect for nature, nourishes bodies and encourages a lifelong love of learning about the natural world. The vegetable garden really is the newest classroom – there are no walls, but the science of life and the rhythm of math are everywhere.

The gardening program involves children of all ages at St. Nicholas. Level 2 students seed and care for baby plants in the greenhouse. During the past school year, Level 6 and 7 students calculated the area of the greenhouse to determine the type of ventilation fan needed. Level 5 students transplant seedlings from the greenhouse during their life-cycle study and measure soil temperatures. Level 3 and 4 students care for the herb plants and study the properties of soil.


Students of all levels plant vegetables in the raised beds of the vegetable garden and tend them while they grow. At harvest time, students are able to taste the fruits of their labor – sometimes straight off the plant as with cherry tomatoes. Fresh spinach, lettuce, arugula, radishes and onions are incorporated into salad bar offerings in the St. Nicholas cafeteria. Taste tests are also conducted to expose children to the flavors of the garden, while teaching fresh food preparation. During summer camp, students tasted red, yellow, white, pink, purple and orange carrots to compare the flavors. They also set up a summer “Garden Market” selling summer veggies such as squash, tomatoes, herbs and flower bouquets. The proceeds benefit St. Nicholas outreach efforts like the Community Kitchen.

Between garden classes, the cafeteria salad bar and taste tests, repeated exposure to fresh fruits and vegetables is encouraging healthy eating behaviors for students at
St. Nicholas School. Some of the pickiest eaters concede that fresh spinach actually DOES taste pretty good. The garden program is just one more way that St. Nicholas School is working to educate the “whole child”– body, mind and spirit.

- - Melanie Mayo, Garden and Outdoor Education Coordinator

St Nicholas School 7525 Min Tom Drive - Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421
ph: (423).899.1999 - fax: (423).899.0109 - info@stns.org
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