Students from Bryant Elementary School’s Garden Club spent Wednesday evening making wren houses, composting, playing in a tree house and riding tractors at their end of the year party.

Students from Bryant Elementary School’s Garden Club spent Wednesday evening making wren houses, composting, playing in a tree house and riding tractors at their end of the year party.

Students went to work in the garden on Tuesdays and Thursdays this spring to plant and harvest vegetables such as spinach and lettuce that they later ate with their salads at the party.

Nina Falls, Caring Communities site coordinator at Bryant Elementary, was involved in an initial proposal to create a community garden with land that was donated last spring.

The garden stirred a controversy and the plans were halted.

Two locals, Jim and Sharon Hannah, later donated plots of land in their backyard and the Garden Club started digging mid-March.

“It all worked out because we had these neighbors that were willing to give up their yard and still in the same neighborhood,” Falls said.  

Jim said he and Sharon were interested in gardening because they both grew up on farms in Iowa and are interested in the earth. Jim said they wanted to help connect the students to the earth.

“Kansas City Community Gardens really helped us out,” Jim said. “We went to several training workshops down there and their staff person was always available to us. We had a lot of help from a lot of people to make this happen.”

They got funding from the Local Investment Commisson to build the beds and for seeds.

Jim said this fall he is going to grow Knuckle Head Pumpkins and bring them to Bryant for the kids to carve.

“We’re so incredibly pleased with what’s happened and all the cooperation and the way the kids are so enthused and interested in what’s going on,” Jim said. “We came to see it not just as growing vegetables, but growing a community.”

Falls said it’s important for people to come together over something they love, especially gardening because it’s something people of any age can do.

“Even if you don’t have a lot of money – a garden is something that you can do and be proud of and share with people,” Falls said. “You can do it with just seeds. Gardening is about everybody learning something they can carry with them their whole life.”

 She said approximately 20 students from kindergarten to fifth grade were involved in the club.

“I thought this was interesting, some of these kids don’t like vegetables, but when it was grown in the garden they would taste the lettuce and they don’t eat lettuce at home,” Falls said.

Melissa Britt said she hoped that working in the garden would make her two sons, Payton, 5, and Logan, 7, enjoy eating vegetables more and even though she was not sure that was the case, this was still a valuable learning experience.

“They came home and talked to my youngest son and now they all talk about Earth Day,” Britt said. “We were at the park and my youngest son said ‘mom, look what someone did to the earth’ and picked up the trash and threw it away.

“They know you have to value the earth and what it’s about.”

Logan and Payton both said they enjoyed working in the garden this spring and learning about gardening. They said they want to participate in the future.

Logan said his favorite experience was planting the seeds.

Falls said the garden would be back next spring but she was not sure if they would harvest in the fall.