Come next fall students at and will be bringing home healthy ingredients for dinner thanks to a new classroom that will serve as a learning center for all subjects.
The new classroom has no walls or a ceiling and its floor is made of dirt, and it will harvest a bounty of vegetables and flood students with knowledge when they tend to the outdoor classroom comprised of three raised-bed gardens at both Forks and Tracy.
Members of the Kellyn Foundation and school officials unveiled the new beds on the grounds at Forks Friday afternoon before representatives of the Parent Teacher Associations from both schools.
The beds, which were donated by the foundation, Lowe’s Southmount and Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, are part of the foundation’s mission to facilitate physical and emotional strength and wellness.
The foundation, co-founded by Dr. Meagan Grega, director of Women’s Health Services at Lafayette College, and Eric Ruth, a local martial artist, is aiming to address changes toward a healthy lifestyle with the beds that will be used by the students, faculty and parents to raise vegetables.
“The concept here is to teach kids about nature,” said Ruth.
The concept is tied to the hope that the beds will nudge vegetable-shy kids toward tasting their veggies.
“Children are more likely to try something if they had a hand in making it,” Grega said.
Forks Principal Michael McCauley and Tracy Principal Robert Steckel said their response was a “no-brainer” when the foundation approached them with the idea of having students start seeds in their classrooms this winter, plant and maintain the vegetables in spring and have parents nurture the produce over the summer when school is not in session.
“It’s not just a box of soil and mulch. It’s a curriculum. It’s a science laboratory, a math center, a social studies room and a reading group,” said Steckel.
McCauley said the schools received overwhelming support when they appealed to the PTAs to join in the education process and maintain the beds in the summer months.
“We are all about peers working together. The idea of having families involved made the initiative more appealing,” he said.