For most high school students, springtime means warmer weather and the anticipation of summer vacation.
But for students in Mr. Finch’s Outdoor Leadership class at KIPP Denver Collegiate High School, springtime means getting into the dirt and planting seeds that will turn into summertime vegetables.
On Friday, KIPPsters took to the KDCHS garden armed with radish, spinach, lettuce, and pea seeds. Although the ground was blanketed in snow just three days earlier, students said they felt confident the time was right to plant the seeds.
“We’re not too worried because we made sure these plants are hearty and can survive some cold weather,” said Karla, a junior at KDCHS. “I’m excited to cook them, but I’m most excited about seeing them go from a seed to a whole plant.”
Emelyn, also a junior at KDCHS, said the garden project has impacted her in two ways.
“This has made me think about how I could grow food and turn that into a business. But I also like to cook and am now thinking about how I can use these ingredients over the summer to help me be at my best for next basketball season.”
The garden is part of KIPP Colorado’s health and wellness initiative to improve the health and wellness of students, families, and the community.
Mr. Finch believes the garden offers multiple benefits for the students.
“My students have been really interested in learning more about eating healthy and learning to cook using healthy ingredients,” said Mr. Finch. “They’re excited about the garden project and the sense of accomplishment from growing their own food.”
Other schools in the KIPP Colorado region are offering their own health and wellness activities and resources, including a cooking class for middle school students, a no-cost grocery program in Far Northeast Denver, and Zumba classes for parents.
Andrea Rougé is the Director of Health and Wellness at KIPP Colorado Schools. She says programs like this are important for not just the physical health benefits from eating healthy food, but also for the mental health benefits from spending time outside nurturing a living plant.
“The vegetables that students grow themselves not only taste better, but they also get students excited about cooking and eating healthy foods and give the students a sense of pride and accomplishment.”
The vegetables are set to be ready for harvest before the end of the school year. Students from Mr. Finch’s class will be able to take home the bounty and use the vegetables however they choose. Many of the students said they were planning to find recipes that they cook using their fresh produce.
For now, Mr. Finch’s class is just hoping there isn’t any more snow in the forecast.
KIPP Denver Collegiate High School