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Students Help Community Garden Grow Bigger and Bigger

Bean trellises, fruit trees and brightly painted bowling balls are among new additions to the Kelloggsville Community Garden, where students recently planted seeds, spread mulch and learned how to make their garden grow.

Thanks to a service-learning grant for sustainable urban agriculture projects from State Farm, Mike Zurgable, a Kelloggsville teacher instrumental in the garden’s development, is expanding the project at Kelloggsville Regional Center, 977 44th St. SW, in Wyoming. The garden, in its fourth year, yields a harvest of fresh produce for the food pantry at The Family Network of Wyoming, located next to the center.West Kelloggsville third grade students Jakhary Towns and Cynsere Walker get to work

It’s also the perfect venue for teaching students about agriculture, where food comes from, and involving them in community service.

“It’s like we’re farming!’ said Dennis Dubridge, West Kelloggsville Elementary School third-grader during a session planting with his class.

“If you don’t want to buy food, you can grow it and eat it,” said Jakhary Towns, also a third grader.

To the 29-raised bed gardens and surrounding land that is planted with annual flowers, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, corn, cabbage and onions, Zurgable is adding an orchard with 16 apple, sweet cherry and pear trees, a maintenance shed, sculpture area and “Salsa in a Garden in a 5-gallon Bucket.”

The new projects will be funded by about $10,000 in grant money. State Farm recently awarded Kent ISD with a $100,000 grant for use in Kelloggsville Public Schools and Godfrey Lee Public Schools.

Growing Upward

The theme for this planting season is “Going Vertical,” Zurgable said. Students started planting seeds, to train pole beans and tomatoes up a trellis to increase the yield and use space more efficiently.

The growing season is also extending from earlier in the spring into the late fall, with materials being installed to allow for cold tolerating plants like greens and peas to withstand frost. It will allow for students to have a cooking lesson in the fall using vegetKelloggsville Regional Center kindergartner Jack Davis eyes a weedables.

High School art teacher Donna Casmere’s students painted bowling balls in colorful floral designs to be used as garden art.

Parent Brett Davis recently spent time pulling weeds at the garden with his children Jack, a kindergarten student at Kelloggsville Regional Center and Emma, 4.

“Holy cow, son, the cabbages are loving you for doing this,” he said, as Jack yanked weeds from a garden bed already growing with large cabbage plants. “What kind of vegetable would you like to grow out here?”

“Peppers!” Jack responded.

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Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese is associate managing editor and reporter, covering Byron Center, Kentwood, Wyoming and Grand Rapids Community College. She was one of the original SNN staff writers, helping launch the site in 2013 and enjoys fulfilling the mission of sharing the stories of public education. She has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers, On-the-Town Magazine and Group Tour Media. Read Erin's full bio

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