Grand Ridge students are on the fence about art

October 18, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Third-graders Sophia Jones (left) and Petek Mertan help put together the newest creation to adorn a fence surrounding the school garden at Grand Ridge Elementary School. By Tom Corrigan

The day was overcast and windy, a pretty typical fall day in Issaquah.

But since there was no rain, when they came out for recess, some of the youngsters at Grand Ridge Elementary School in the Issaquah Highlands were nevertheless asked to help out in the school’s community garden.

No, since it’s October, they aren’t actually doing any planting. Instead, PTSA member and Grand Ridge garden coordinator Julie Hart has arranged another art project for her temporary charges.

“We’ve got nine months of gray,” Hart said referring to the local weather.

So while she does plan for some year-round gardening, for now she has come up with a way to add some color to the school garden even in the nastiest weather.

“We started out with a simple carrot design,” she said, pointing to the colorful carrot that adorns the chain link fence around the Grand Ridge garden.

With Hart and other volunteers helping out, students created the carrot out of colored flagging tape, tape such as you might find at a construction site. The tape was cut into strips, and then wrapped around the fencing in the carrot pattern.

Hart said the project is a simple one, but it keeps Grand Ridge’s students involved with the garden. A flower and a tomato have joined the carrot on the fence.

“It’s fun,” said Sophia Jones, 8, as she attached strips to the fence for the school’s newest creation, a leaf. She added she also has enjoyed working in the garden itself.

“It’s cool to watch stuff grow,” she said.

“Anything they can do at the garden, they get excited about,” Hart said.

For her, the garden really seems to be the point, the artwork on the fence seemingly a kind of fun sideline.

Established four years ago, the garden currently contains 18 beds. For the colder months, Hart intends to place what she called hoop houses over crops that can withstand a little cold, such as certain types of lettuce and bok choy. The hoop houses are basically homemade greenhouses consisting of plastic sheeting over a frame of PVC piping. Students also spend a lot of time weeding the garden year round.

Hart said her most recent harvest was just a few weeks ago. Naturally, students helped gather in the bounty.

“It’s so funny watching all the kids try to grab as many vegetables as possible,” Hart said.

Students are allowed to take the gathered goods home with them.

Hart has been helping tend the Grand Ridge garden since its inception. She encourages teachers to incorporate it into their lesson plans, and uses cafeteria leftovers for composting.

“We just try to get the whole school involved as much as we can,” Hart said.

Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or tcorrigan@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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