Community Engagement

How does your garden grow?

JMU professor and students form gardening partnerships with Harrisonburg elementary schools

Geographic science professor Amy Goodall (right) started this garden at Keister Elementary School in 2012 with funding from JMU’s Department of Integrated Science and Technology and at the request of Anne Lintner, the school’s principal at the time. Lintner is now principal at Bluestone Elementary, which will be installing a garden soon. Current principal Julie Zook continues the garden relationship between Keister and the geographic science program.

Goodall’s students had wanted a garden to work in before they started this one at Keister. Since then, geographic science students have rebuilt the garden at Waterman Elementary School and helped create a new flower garden at Smithland Elementary School.

Goodall’s students work with the elementary-school students, introducing them to gardening and teaching them about healthy eating, plants, soils, insects and all that goes into caring for a garden.

Goodall’s students also do work and research in the gardens for their capstone projects in biogeography. The students create information sets for the elementary-school teachers about the garden, including identification and location of plants being grown, descriptions of when flowers bloom and fruits ripen, kinds of butterflies found there, and more.

The fruits and vegetables are harvested in the summer and fall. The kitchen staff at Keister Elementary works hard to make sure the vegetables are consumed by as many students as possible. They served more than 100 students with the garden’s potatoes! They are still developing methods for making sure all Keister students get to eat the vegetables and fruits.

Photographs by Elise Trissel

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