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Community Builds Gardens for Child Care Center

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Planting seeds, watering, weeding and harvesting will become a more integrated part of the curriculum this year for students at the Children’s Center of Knoxville.  Teachers have led them in some container gardening in the past year. Now, the child care center will have dedicated gardening areas built into the landscaping.

Executive Director Janet Kite says the plan is for the school to grow some of its own organic foods. “We have a cook that’s been here since 1977, and she says she can use tomatoes, cabbage, there’s certain things that we’ll be able to use that we can grow here. Some of it will just be for taste testing and cooking in the classrooms.”

Executive Director Janet Kite Children’s Center of Knoxville

The new raised beds and other garden areas are the result of a $2,500 Junior League grant, plus community volunteerism. Teachers, parents, university staff members and Slow Food members coordinated the project of establishing the garden.  It includes raised beds begun with organic fertilizer donated from Earthfare.  CCK parent and project leader Tiffany Morrison says some of the planting beds will be specifically designed by teachers for use with very young toddler activities.  Morrison also says that local extension agents and professors helped with advice on the project.  Morrison is a University of Tennessee intern who’s been part of the Organic Farm and Market program.  She says, “It was exciting to be able to apply some of the things I’ve been learning.”  They’ll soon be planting blueberry bushes, and volunteers will return as needed to assist the school.

Kite and Morrison say they’re appreciative of all of the help that’s come together for the project, down to the water donated by Earthfare for volunteers working in the recent July heat.  The school plans on growing pumpkins and gourds this fall, then much more next spring.  Kite says she’s excited about the educational benefits of a garden for preschool children, half of whom come from underprivileged backgrounds.

The Children’s Center is a United Way agency.  “They’re just gonna learn more than just what a happy meal is, they’re gonna learn a little bit about where their food comes from and hopefully they’ll see some of those things they grow, on their plate at lunch.”

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