Garden grows at the heart of Lefler
The garden at Lefler Middle School has been centered around its students from the start. Only three years old, the garden has been focused on providing students with hands-on experiences in all aspects. Students in the Industrial Technology class built and installed raised beds for the space and now get to see their handiwork each time they walk by the garden. The handmade beds were filled with soil and compost by summer school students, preparing the space for the life it would soon be sprouting. Students were guided through the process of developing their green thumbs by Michael Herres, the retired Lefler teacher who is the driving force behind the implementation and continuation of the garden.
Herres is excited to expand the use of the garden as a learning space. “Many kids did not understand the concept of putting a seed in the soil and seeing it through the process of becoming food,” Herres explained, “so we start 90% of our plants from seed.” Students in the Life Skills class are able to spend class time in the garden, studying the connection between the food they eat and the plants they are observing. They are then able to donate the produce they have nurtured to the Food Bank of Lincoln, showing the students that raising life can also give life to those who need it most.
Herres looks forward to expanding the garden – and students’ learning – to more than food. Soon there will be native Nebraska prairie grasses planted alongside blooming ornamentals. Beyond the curricular advantages to the garden, Herres is also a believer in the power of having a calming outdoor space where students can relax or speak with a counselor. Herres says, “I really want them to see what can happen if you nurture an environment and then take that nurturing attitude into the environment of the building.”