Teaching Garden survives harsh winter

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By Faith Evans

With 28 fruit trees and nine raised beds, lots of helping hands are needed to keep up with the Teaching Garden’s half acre of land. Mr. Manning’s class is out there most Mondays and Thursdays to water plants and pick fruits and veggies. Photo by Faith Evans
With 28 fruit trees and nine raised beds, lots of helping hands are needed to keep up with the Teaching Garden’s half acre of land. Mr. Manning’s class is out there most Mondays and Thursdays to water plants and pick fruits and veggies. Photo by Faith Evans

After a long, harsh winter, the groundhog’s prediction of an early spring came at just the right time for the caretakers of the Teaching Garden. Mr. Manning and his special education class lost two fruit trees to the frigid temperatures, but they are starting their spring planting with undeterred resolve to “grow as much as [they] can.”

It’s a common question; “Coronado has a garden?” Yes, the special education department started seeking donations to start their garden classroom in the 2013-2014 school year, and their first planting was almost two years ago on Earth Day.

“It started originally; we were going to the farmer’s market, and we were buying produce. We did that for two reasons: one was to help the kids learn how to manage money, and then secondly to be able to get good fruits and vegetables. And then I said, ‘Well, wait, why don’t we try gow stuff here?’ Originally the idea was very small, but this thing just took off,” Mr. Manning, special education teacher, said.

Special education students are the primary gardeners and upkeepers in the outdoor classroom, but Key Club, Cougars United, and Environmental Club will often come out for big workdays throughout the school year.

“We do a lot of stuff. We plant stuff, we water stuff, we do everything,” Keenan Davis, senior and special education student, said.

Currently the broccoli, spinach, lettuce, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts are popular vegetables ripe for picking, but it is important to note that the garden is in a period of seasonal transition, and there will be much more to come when the fruit trees bloom.

“Many times when we go to the garden, we’ll pull a carrot out of the garden, wash it off, wipe it off, and eat it right there. We eat strawberries right out of the bed; we eat fruit. Our first lemon, we cut it up in little pieces, and everyone had a little lemon,” Mr. Manning said.

The garden is a very social place where a variety of topics are discussed while watering plants and pulling produce. From talk of speedy race cars, to giggles about who is holding hands with whom, conversations of all size and shape stand out amid the sound of hoses and clippers.