Bob Vaughn, UM Extension Master Gardener in Anoka County, August 10, 2015.
The Pines School is located on the grounds of the Anoka County Juvenile Center in Lino Lakes, serving middle and high school youth. The Pines School and Anoka County Secure (ACS) New Growth Garden has just completed its third year. It was initiated by Jim, a very involved Pine School teacher. Now the program, part of the science curriculum, is led by Lori, also a Pines School teacher. The transition of teachers was smooth and Lori is doing a wonderful job.
U of M Extension Master Gardeners from Anoka County, Rachel, Nancy and I, have been involved from the start. This year we started in February and have been helping teach 5 classes, 2 at Pines School and 3 at ACS, once a week until the end of the school year. This year the students learned about soil science, composting, hydroponics, vermiculture (composting with worms), photosynthesis, plant propagation, and companion planting. They started plants from seeds and had good success.
MN Green, part of the Minnesota Horticulture Society (MHS), donated bulbs from their spring plant show that ACS students cleaned, sorted, packaged, and sold. The monies raised will help cover some costs for next year’s garden.
Another involved teacher is Joe, the math teacher. He had ACS students start, grow, and sell peppers and tomatoes. Joe’s students built raised garden beds after watching a video on that type of gardening. We also received several gardens in a box from MHS. These were set up and planted in courtyards.
This third year in our garden, we decided to mound our planting beds. That was our first step in planting. We amended our soil using compost that we made. We planted seeds and plants the students started, along with donated plants. We added rhubarb to the perennial section. To further enjoy gardening, the ACS students made rhubarb crisp. They said it was delicious. Strawberries were harvested and eaten by all classes. Raspberry bushes have also been added along with a Nanking Cherry Tree. Green beans, Jalapeño peppers, and mustard greens have been harvested. Tomatoes and bell peppers are doing well.
It is a pleasure and privilege to be a part of this project. The students are engaged and have worked hard planting, weeding, and harvesting. They have taken things learned in the classroom and put them into practice, hopefully learning life-long lessons and skills. We look forward to year four.
For more information on Pines School, see: http://www.isd12.org/schools/area-learning-center/pines-school