Vegetables from Carmel Valley school’s garden a hit with students
By Karen Billing
During lunchtime recently at Solana Pacific School, students came flying across the blacktop as soon as they had been set free from classes. They weren’t racing for the first game on the handball court or to take over the tetherball pole, they were racing to get in line for salad. Yes, truly, salad.
“We just had to run over,” said sixth-grader Alli Abramowitz with her friends in tow. “The potatoes and broccoli are the best.”
“No, the beets are the best!” countered her friends Alice Shashkina and Katherine Solovyeva.
The kids were excited to sample the latest and freshest offerings harvested from Solana Pacific’s own organic garden, located on the edge of the blacktop. When vegetables are ready, they’re harvested and served up by parent volunteers to grateful students at lunch. Students come over to try the garden treats by choice and they come in bunches.
Parent Hallie Worsey has been supervising the garden for the last six years — she started when her daughter was a fifth grade student at Solana Pacific. The garden beds had been built with the school in 2004, but they remained empty so Worsey decided to take them on herself.
“It’s been a lot of research, experimenting and talking to other gardeners,” Worsey said.
Now the garden is green and flourishing with beds full of dill, Swiss chard, lettuce, cilantro, parsley, beans, green onions, carrots, baby arugula, cauliflower, broccoli, beets, radishes and a jungle of enthusiastic sweet peas. There are a few cheerful marigolds and sunflowers should pop up in the coming months.
There is also a giant, “killer radish” named “Mr. McBride’s Radish” for the school principal Brian McBride.
For now the potato bed is bare as 65 pounds were harvested a few weeks ago and served up to very excited children who had lined up across the blacktop.
“We couldn’t keep up with [the demand],” volunteer Karin Kuiper remarked.
“Kids came back for seconds and thirds,” Worsey said.
Recently, children came back for seconds and thirds, as well, on the salad with sweet radishes and carrots, peas and green onions. Kuiper drizzled a little of their choice of Italian or Ranch dressing on the side of their plates and the students gobbled up the greens.
“The garden is awesome,” said fifth grader Deanne Allouche.
Volunteer parents do most of the harvesting for the garden although, when appropriate, the students can help. Because harvesting requires some extra supervision, Worsey can’t let the kids help harvest everything, but they did help harvest the potatoes.
“They were like badgers, they were so excited to get in there and just dig,” Worsey said.
Worsey said this will be her last year supervising the garden and she hopes that someone will step forward so it will continue to be something special at Solana Pacific.
“I’m going to miss it,” Worsey said. “It can be a really big chunk of time, just like any garden…But the kids just love it.”