Maplewood Elementary School staff have a variety of methods for instilling the joy and wonder of reading to students. The Book-It Program and the Rockin’ Reader Program are encouraging parents to read to their children for 20 minutes everyday. A unique approach is to encourage students to read and gain knowledge about their hobby or interest. This year with the help of a grant from the Indiana Environmental Council, students involved in the schools’ organically grown community garden will be asked to investigate methods for improving the soil quality of the garden by using natural soil amendments.

The Maplewood School Angel Community Garden is a service-learning project comprised of 50 elementary and middle school students. The objectives of the garden project are to teach children organic gardening principles, increase their level of exercise and improve their daily consumption of fresh dark green vegetables.

The students donate 75% of their crop to senior citizens and underserved women and children.

The children help monitor and identify insect pests with the use of a Garden Insect Identification book. For instance, last summer, they helped identify the presence of the elusive flea beetle. They learned eco-friendly methods for discouraging the pest.

The Angel Community Garden is a 2-acre intensively planted (spring/summer/fall) garden utilizing wide-bed and double-row planting techniques.

“We use the 200 ft. rows as exercise paths. The children use high wheel bicycle plows (discarded bicycles that are reconfigured into garden tools) to mechanically remove weeds. We call our agriculturally motivated exercise ‘agricise.'”

Participating children and families are given recipes to explore their garden bounty. Many have vowed never to eat canned vegetables again after experiencing the flavor and distinct wholesome goodness of fresh vegetables.

The sponsors of the Maplewood Angel Community Garden are Health Visions of Fort Wayne, Inc., The Fort Wayne Community Fishing Club and Come As You Are Community Church.

The Maplewood School Angel Community Garden is funded partially from the recycling and repair of gasoline-powered equipment. We reduce, reuse and recycle lawn and garden equipment in conjunction with the Allen County Solid Waste District. Drop-off of gasoline-powered equipment is available at the Lafayette Bait Store, 3511 S. Lafayette St. 456-1616.

The Waynedale News Staff

Ephraim Smiley

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