Gulfport Elementary Students to Share Harvest

Michael Collins, center, an Eckerd College senior and volunteer with the Edible Peace Patch Project, looks on as students at the Gulfport Montessori Elementary School work on a project on December 6.

A group of students at Gulfport Montessori Elementary School will be sharing the fruits of their labor – literally and figuratively – this Friday December 15 when they harvest the crops they have been growing since the start of the school year.

Several dozen fourth and fifth graders have participated in a gardening program led by the St. Petersburg-based Edible Peace Patch Project, a non-profit whose mission is “to cultivate healthy minds and bodies through hands-on educational gardens producing successful individuals and thriving communities.”

“The kids love it,” said program educational coordinator Krista Keisu on Wednesday, December 6. “It’s so crazy to see them get excited about trying broccoli and cucumbers. They get to be part of growing the food, which makes them more inclined to want to try it.”

In August students planted a wide variety of vegetables, including kale, chard, tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, broccoli and radishes, along with edible flowers such as nasturtiums, and trees such as moringa, banana and roselle.

After nurturing them over the past four months and watching them grow, students will be harvesting the vegetables this Friday and sharing them with their classmates during lunch at school and taking some home for their families.

The program, which was started six years ago by students at Eckerd College, is aligned with the Pinellas County science and health education standards and is currently being offered at a total of seven schools in the area, Keisu said. This is the first time it was offered in Gulfport.

Dustin Triplett, left, a math and science teacher at Gulfport Montessori Elementary School, examines some cucumbers in the school garden with a student on December 6.

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