By Michelle Fabio
This year, about 800 elementary school students from California’s Petaluma City Schools have added “tomato grower” to their resumes.
Thanks to donations from “seed sponsors” including Tomato Growers Supply Co., Seed Savers Exchange, Seeds of Change, Totally Tomatoes, and TomatoFest, the students planted and cared for 300 different types of heirloom tomato seeds.
The young gardeners now have 7,000 plants to sell at plant sales to benefit the district.
“The curriculum for the kids this year was centered around tomatoes,” said Denise Ward, Petaluma City Schools district garden program coordinator.
“They learned the history of tomatoes coming out of South America and how the tomato seed has become a world traveler; for example, there are African tomatoes, Australian tomatoes and even Japanese tomatoes.”
According the Ward, an admitted tomato fanatic, the kids thoroughly enjoyed their gardening experience, which suits Ward just fine:
“I’m going to be old one day and won’t be able to grow tomatoes myself, so I need the kids to learn how to grow them,” she said. “That’s my life story – a fanatic finds her dream: having kids grow thousands of tomatoes.”
And that is a dream we can all share.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if more elementary schools would follow the lead of Petaluma City Schools and instill the love of gardening in children early on? Why not recommend it to your local school board?
Read more: The year of the tomato