Hats off to anyone who spends part of their busy days working on, creating, or maintaining a school garden.

Here’s why I, as parent of a fourth-grader, thank you.

Sunflowers at Crestview gardenIt is nothing short of inspiring to see overflowing garden beds in a space formerly occupied by cracking asphalt between two wings of a rather drab looking school. It also happens to be the space where my daughter lines up.

When I say overflowing, I mean it. I don’t know what’s in the fertilizer at Crest View Elementary School in Boulder, but these plants are happy! And it makes me incredibly happy to see giant sunflowers in bloom, and massive tomato plants populated by yellow and red fruits. Most striking, however, are the hefty yellow squash, which have used their vines to creep from the raised bed onto the pavement.

Resiliency of squash

This is where you really see the love.

Crest View elementary school garden in boulder, coloradoA parent or teacher carefully placed hay underneath the vine, creating a sort of road or bed for the squash to travel and rest upon. And nobody has touched them. They sit there, imperceptibly growing in the fall sun. We see them every day, acknowledge them, and respect them.

To my amazement, no one has tried to pick them or destroy them – or any of the other temptingly ripe veggies weighing down the plants, for that matter.

I recently received a newsletter from the Growe Foundation, a local nonprofit that assists with the creation and maintenance of school gardens across the Boulder Valley.

And I saw one of Crest View’s fourth grade teachers profiled. She is not my daughter’s teacher, but I’m pretty sure my daughter will have the same garden-inspired curriculum this year. Her teacher has already asked her to pick some flowers to be dried, and turned into tea.

It seems that Cindy Monnet, a 22-year teacher at Crest View, has embraced the garden with all her botanical might. Apparently, in all her spare time, she also runs her own small farm where she grows hay and alfalfa. She knows her stuff – and she willingly shares it with the school community.

This year, the fourth-graders will harvest the garden (lucky dogs!) and determine food prices.

You know my thoughts about the garden.

Here are the words of a teacher who sees the potential in linking seeds, plants and produce to every piece of the curriculum. There will always be tests to assess student knowledge, but how much more fun to pop a tantalizingly red cherry tomato in your mouth, to understand how it came to be, and why it matters.

In a teacher’s words: The experience of integrating the curriculum with the gardens is so much fun and has such real-world meaning to our students.  I feel so lucky that Crest View has a Garden to Table program….between our gardens and wetland habitat, we are truly a school that allows our earth, and its gifts, to be an important part of our students’ learning.

Thank you, Ms. Monnet and all the other parents and staff volunteers who keep our lovely gardens growing.