Leslie Bobo started the community garden at Chugiak Elementary School (CES) five years ago.
“I wanted kids to know where food comes from,” Bobo explained.
The Rams’ Roots all-organic community garden has made a difference. Bobo watched students refuse to eat anything green. By harvest time, she caught them sneaking snap peas.
Under her direction, a crowd of parents, students and siblings converged on the brightly painted garden beds. Today they plant. The rest of the summer families share weeding and watering duties.
Tana Luna, a parent and garden volunteer describes her motivation for attending the May 22 community planting.
“I can’t grow anything. I come here to learn how to do it and participate in something that will succeed.”
Ben Schneider came with his daughter’s Girl Scout troop.
“It’s good for the kids to help grow their food,” Schneider said.
As he herded a handful of rambunctious girls back to the dirt beds, Schneider added he hoped the experience would also emphasize focus and following directions.
The event gave CES students the opportunity to lead their peers as more experienced gardeners directed new pupils how to plant peas in a narrow trench.
A brisk walk toward the back of the school led to the potato patch.
Nathan Barlow held up five fingers when asked his age. He ran around the expansive dirt mound ecstatically shouting “worm!” every time a squirmy creature appeared. His mother, Michelle Barlow, made him return the worms to the earth.
“They’re good for the soil,” she explained.
Brady Zink, age 9, discovered that gardening is a process which requires patience, and that some garden products should be cooked.
“I tried to eat a potato,” he said. Zink decided that starter potatoes are not delicious.
Curtis Townsend was shoveling compacted dirt beside his 13-year-old daughter, Cassidy.
“I like teaching the value of hard work and community,” Townsend said. “We have a garden at home — it’s fun to be involved in the community garden.”
The cloudy, cool day was full of laughter, shouting and the sound of shovels hitting rocks.
“The kids worked their butts off. And the adults,” said gardener Shannon Zinc.
In the spirit of community, P & M Garden Services in Eagle River and Perennial Gardens in Chugiak gave Rams’ Roots a discount on plants. Dakota Diggers of Chugiak donated a rototiller rental when the digging the potato patch became too difficult.