PB Smith Ecology Club learns Winter Gardening at Airlie

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Airlie's head gardener Kae Yowell, left, showing PB Smith Elementary ecology club members Alison Janicky and Mia Addison about planting winter seeds.

No one likes getting their hands dirty more than a group of fifth graders, and that’s exactly what took place last Wednesday at Airlie. The fifth grade ecology club from PB Smith Elementary School visited the hotel’s organic garden to learn about and plant winter crops that will beplaced in raised beds and donated to the school this spring.

“They were able to try different types of lettuce and learn about the different flavors,” PB Smith Elementary fifth grade teacher and ecology club sponsor Barbara Dennee said. “It was great to see their reactions to what we will be growing from today’s trip.”

Airlie and PB Smith Elementary School partnered in 2013 to help bring awareness to the importance of gardening organic and sustainable foods. Dennee said the partnership with Airlie has been a wonderful learning experience for both the kids and the local community.

“Last year we donated over 200 pounds of food from our garden that we grew with Airlie’s composted soil to local food banks,” Dennee said. “For the kids to be able to get their hands in the dirt and be a part of an experience like this – it’s really amazing.”

Christopher Chirasello said he really enjoyed being able to get outside and play in the dirt, but his favorite part of the trip to Airlie included learning how to use the gardening tools.

“I got to use the broad fork and jump on it,” he said. He added that he really likes fruit, and was fortunate enough to try some of the strawberries his class grew last fall.

Conner Mollberg said being allowed to get his hands dirty was a fun part of his experience at Airlie.

“We learned how to plant herbs and turn the soil correctly,” Mollberg said. “We got to learn how to plant seeds (so we can) eat the food we grow.”

Allyson Kirkham said she likes being a part of the ecology club, and coming to Airlie is a fun way to learn about gardening.

“I like recycling and helping the Earth,” she said. She also said she was able to rake, plant onions and cabbage.

The club will have the chance to visit Airlie again in April on Earth Day and learn more ways to play in the garden. To learn more about Airlie’s organic garden, Local Food Project, or find out how to get involved in their community garden, visit http://www.airlie.com/environment/localfood

Nicole Fitch

Written by Nicole Fitch

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