For the past year each classroom at Washington, D.C.’s, Powell Elementary School has maintained a vegetable planter and cultivated produce including lettuce, turnips, radishes and broccoli.
Their green project began in June 2011, after the Washington Capitals partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) People’s Garden to help fund and build a habitat garden at the school. The next school year the USDA worked with Powell to create a food garden on the school’s playground area.
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The People’s Garden, an initiative by the USDA, challenges its employees to establish People’s Gardens at USDA facilities worldwide or help communities create gardens.
People’s gardens vary in size and type, but all have a common purpose – to help the community they’re within and the environment.
Following months of care, Powell students recently harvested the greens during a Washington Capitals staff service project at the school’s garden.
A total of 20 Capitals staff members partnered with 10 United States Department of Agriculture employees and Powell students this November during Keep America Beautiful’s National Planting Day to put the habitat garden to bed for the winter and prepare salads using the greens and herbs students nurtured in their food gardens throughout the year.
Washington Capitals guest services specialist Kelly Jones was one of several employees who participated in the service project by mulching, planting grasses, moving woodchips to redefine paths and revitalizing the outdoor classroom area.
She also led some of the garden harvesting sessions with classes to make the salads.
“It was a very rewarding experience to work with all of the students at Powell Elementary,” said Jones. “Talking with these kids about their gardens and actively engaging them so that they were excited to harvest their fresh vegetables was so much fun. I’ve never seen so many young kids so enthusiastic to both make and then eat a fresh salad.”
“USDA's partnership with the Washington Capitals at Powell began in February 2011. It has been a true collaborative effort between People's Garden staff and volunteers, Caps fans and staff and Powell Elementary School parents, administrators, teachers and students,” said Annie Ceccarini, outreach and education specialist for the USDA’s People's Garden. “This end of the season event brought us all together in both gardens and we were able to put the habitat garden to bed in support of National Planting Day with Keep America Beautiful and then harvested cool season crops from the food garden for salads. Seeing the student's excitement as they pulled turnips and radishes out of their planters for the first time was awesome. My face still hurts from smiling.”