LECLAIRE, Iowa — Logan Beausoleil and Pat Seamer teach their sixth grade students about healthy living through a garden project at Bridgeview Elementary School. What was a plain spot of grass on the side of the school now has three raised beds with a variety of newly planted fruits and vegetables. Part of the school's English Language Arts standards focus on healthy living. A performance task was to create an idea to make an impact on the community.
By planting their own food, students think about the food they eat. It's a concept that Beausoleil is translating to his students.
"How do we know what's in our food? We don't. How can we know what's in our food? By growing it ourselves," said Beausoleil. He hopes that the project shows students how easy it is to grow their own food. Both Beausoleil and Seamer have a passion for healthy living.
"It's fun because it's a personal interest of ours, so we really enjoy doing it, so it doesn`t seem like extra work or extra burden on us. It's something we really value and think is important," said Beausoleil. The teachers have spent their own time getting the garden underway. Bousoleil started some of the vegetables at his own home to make sure they would be ready to plant on Friday.
Prior to the day of planting, a small group of 6th grade students presented to the PTA in hopes of getting funding for the project. The students presented on the need for healthy living, and how growing your own food supports a healthy lifestyle. The PTA supported the idea and gave funding for the seeds.
Beausoleil has experience in farming. He worked at a charter school outside of Chicago prior to Brideview, where he educated students on organic farming practices. Three raised beds were constructed by Bousoleil and Seamer. On Friday, students strategically planted the fruits and vegetables according to Beausoleil's charts, which mapped out where exactly to plant each type of crop.
Emily Sanders is one of the 6th graders who has a newly acquired green thumb. On the day of planting, she and her classmates used measuring sticks to properly space the vegetables and took turns planting seeds.
"I think its really cool that my class helped do it and that we`re going to help share it with a lot of people," said Sanders.
When it comes time to harvest, the school district's food service will purchase the fruits and vegetables and use the crops for school lunches. Beausoleil and Seamer partnered with the district's food service to choose what types of food they use in meals.
"We teach about how healthy food is, and you want to make sure you're eating healthy food every day, but really it's so easy to grow your own vegetable hopefully this experience allows them to see that," said Bousoleil.
This summer, Beausoleil and Seamer will harvest the first round of vegetables. They will have work days on Wednesday's at the garden, which students and their parents are invited to attend. Any crops students pick at that point they will be able to take home for free. Next fall, Bridgeview's new round of 6th graders will pick the rest of the plants; the cycle is intended to continue for many future 6th grade classes.