Growing Plans at WMST High School

By: Clare Parks, HealthCorps Coordinator at Washington Math Science & Technology Public Charter High School …..

WMST gardenTruth be told, we do not have an in-house garden at Washington Math Science and Technology (WMST) just yet. Our growing garden started as a set of 3 straw bales and seedlings (thanks to some tips from the DC Greens forum) in just about the only space we could find on our land—in the administrators’ parking lot behind our dumpster. I’m grateful to the stubbornness of the seedlings, or the lack of sunlight, or a combination of the two, because we didn’t see any action and were quickly forced to look to our neighbors across the street.

On Thursday, September 11th, we took six members of our school’s brand new Green Team to the Washington Youth Garden for our first club meeting. The Green Team was formed in partnership with local nonprofit Groundwork Anacostia River DC that works with public high schools to provide students in the city with outdoor recreation, education, and service learning at least once a week. Thanks to Charla Wanta and Noah Lee at WYG, our Green Team members were able to plant beets and radishes, pick ripe tomatoes, sweet peppers, and parsley, and make a tabbouleh with our veggies, feta cheese, and whole-wheat pitas—a health teacher’s dream come true. One senior boy tried a tomato he harvested and asked, “Who made this? They’re good at it!” The boys on the team also tried the “Chinese 5-color Pepper Challenge:” when they found out they picked some of the spiciest peppers on earth right from the garden, they obviously had to eat them. Thankfully, we were still invited back to WYG once more in October and November so that our Green Team members can see changes in the garden throughout the season, and harvest the beets and radishes they picked.

This amazing trip, even though it was just one day, exposed our students to a so many new activities at once, and inspired us to keep searching for potential land in which to build our own garden. Thanks to the kindness of more of our neighbors, we have now been assigned a couple of raised beds to help with in an after-school format at the Rec Center right across the street from us and plan to make gardening a large part of our Green Team student project! Let the growing begin! Many, many thanks to Jeff Wilkes for coming out to WMST to scope out our land and possibilities, Charla and Noah and all the folks at the Washington Youth Garden, the DPR Rec Center, and all of the amazing people and ideas at DC Greens—we couldn’t have gotten started without your support.