29 March 2008

Vermicompost With Junior Master Gardeners

Normally, I only put my writing on my blog but here is a column about the Junior Master Gardeners at Whittier Elementary School learning about compost worms. The students made homes for their worms and then were excited to select a worm for their very own.


Junior Master Gardeners learn, squirm with worms
Program 'gives kids exposure to nature,' teacher says


By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer


The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out. Their duty is helping the vegetables sprout.


That's what the Junior Master Gardeners at Whittier Elementary School will learn in a joint program with Muskogee's Farmers' Market.


Students in Whittier's Junior Master Gardener program spent Friday afternoon filling jugs with dirt, coffee grounds, shredded paper, vegetable scraps, leaves and wet spaghetti and putting a worm in each jug. There, the worms will make compost for vegetable gardens.


How?"The worm eats everything and poops," said Martha Stoodley, a volunteer with Muskogee Farmers' Market. The Farmers' Market is helping with the composting program. The Whittier students will feed and tend to the worms over the next few weeks, then help give out worm composting kits when the Muskogee Farmers' Market opens at the Muskogee Civic Center on April 19, Earth Day.


Whittier's Junior Master Gardener program meets after school two Fridays a month. It is funded through a Learn and Serve grant from the Cherokee Nation.


"The Junior Master Gardener gives kids exposure to nature," said Whittier second-grade teacher Melissa Brown, who sponsors the program. Students in second- through sixth-grade are participating in the program.Program participants got down and dirty in Brown's classroom Friday as they dug their hands through the dirt and ground coffee and ripped apart bell peppers.


They put the coffee and dirt in first, then a bed of shredded office paper, then the food, then the spaghetti.


"I put in dirt, leaves, paper, leaves, dirt, paper so my worm will have two places to stay," said fifth-grader Jacob Hubley. He said he named his worm "Worm Norris, Law of Coffee Bean Town."Jacob already knew a few facts about worms. "If you cut a worm in half, it will poop, too," he said. "I should know. I go fishing with them."


Other students got a hands-on lesson in worm behavior.


"They're mating on my hand," participant Chris Watson said, holding his arm up to show what was going on.


Stoodley confirmed that, yes, that was what the worms were doing.Brown will keep the worm habitats in her classroom.


Fifth-grader Patricia Lemon said she plans to feed her worms lettuce and bell peppers every day.


"You have to keep it in the shade," Patricia said."And make sure your little sister or brother doesn't suffocate it," said fifth-grader Elizabeth Smith.


Brown said the composting program is one aspect of the Junior Master Gardener program. She said students are converting a school courtyard into an outdoor classroom that will include different types of fauna including tropical and desert. The classroom also will feature a butterfly habitat.

2 comments:

Sinfonian said...

That's awesome that the kids are learning about vermicomposting. I wish I would have learned when I was a child. I'm just learning the very basics from Flatlander at Ft2Garden.com. He's been doing it for decades. Sounds very interesting. Let's hope these kids get into the act back at home!

Molly Day said...

sinfonian -
You wouldn't have believed how excited we all were - the kids and me!
Please tell me what Flatlander at Ft2Garden is all about.

Next month I'll be giving away compost worms for Earth Day. It should also be a fun scene.
Martha