FROM FARM TO SCHOOL: Henry Hudson’s new worm discoveries

WHEN NEW WORLD EXPLORER Henry Hudson recorded his 1609 thoughts for posterity, he said nothing, nada, zip about worms. But HCSD students’ discovery this spring of fat, energetic wrigglers in their one-year-old Henry Hudson Discovery Garden was well worth writing home about.

That’s because they know that all the best gardens have lots of worms — a sign of life and vitality. Worms help make new soil and, unless we’re going hydroponic, we need soil to grow food! Which everybody eats, typically three times a day. Fruits, vegetables, grasses, and grains, and the cows, pigs, chickens and other livestock that get butchered for our dining tables — they either want to grow in soil, or they want to eat what does!

The Discovery Garden borders the back parking lot at Hudson’s Junior/Senior High School, and at first, it seemed more stone than soil. So lots of soil was brought in, some from stores that donated opened bags of it. Still, stones seemed to grow just as fast as the plants, and the verdant-oasis vision seemed far-fetched. But, upon discovery of The New Worms… Celebration! [Cue Kool & the Gang.]

Stones notwithstanding, last year’s harvest was abundant. The bazillion tomatoes students carried to the cafeteria posed an arithmetic challenge, calculators or not. Easier to count were the single cabbage and the single white eggplant. Zucchini found their way into a cakey bread baked in the Family and Consumer Science classroom. A cake with green stuff in it? Now that’s just wrong, said some. But withering indignation melted away at the taste test. And, proudly, home to mom and dad went the fruits of their labor.

In gardening and in eating, students discover the connections between outdoors, nurturing, growing, harvesting and eating. Nutrition, direct from nature to you. Discovering where good health comes from. From soil? Yes. From a shrink-wrapped convenient-store package? Not so much.

Soil is still in short supply, and students need a lot more for their ambitious plans. Berries! Straw, blue, black, cran, honey. Herbs! Oregano, chives, basil. Lettuces! Broccoli! Carrots! Radishes! Squash! Garlic! Plus, another whole garden area awaits HCSD’s ag treatment, and it wants a truckload of soil, ready-made, now. (Worms, while fabulous, are slow.)

Now, what about this summer, when our county’s farms shift into high gear? The Discovery Garden will too, if it gets watered when it’s thirsty and weeded when it’s choking. Are there 10 families in the district who would adopt the garden for just one week each? As things ripen, it’s all-you-can-eat. Bring your young’un to help, and discover together.

To volunteer or donate, call Mrs. Howard or Ms. MacGowan at 518 828-4360; see henryhudsondiscoverygarden.blogspot.com. To check out Columbia County’s Farm to School Program, go to kidsinmotiononline.org or call 822-8820, ext. 317.

The experts at Cornell Cooperative Extension say names are important. (Honestly, now, if they weren’t, we’d all be calling our dogs “Dog” and our cats “Cat.”) Gardens have personalities just like animals do, and they need to be named. Taconic’s garden is The Pizza Garden. Ichabod’s is The Butterfly Garden. Hudson’s garden is well named, because students discover lots of things there, and not just worms: flowers they can eat… a “volunteer” sunflower plant… a wild strawberry… a bashful bunny’s basement door…  a blue heron flying overhead!

What’s your garden’s name, and why do you call it that?

 

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