Third- and fifth-grade science and social studies enrichment class students and 4-H’ers at St. Helena Arts and Technology Academy planted a spring garden April 8 at the academy in Greensburg with the help of LSU and Southern universities’ Agricultural Center Assistant Agent Ahmad Robertson and other volunteers. 

Volunteers included local farmer Warner Hall, Rachel Muse, Sank Paige and LSU/SU AgCenter Youth Coordinator Toni Melton, who were on hand to support and assist the youth with basic demonstration and best planting practices.  

Robertson said he visited the garden before planting day to assist the students with bed preparation and weed control.

St. Helena College and Career Academy agriculture teacher Terry Guy and his students developed a landscape and design team to beautify the St. Helena Parish school gardens and flower beds.

The design team assisted the elementary students with their garden, and Robertson talked with the students about their experiences with home gardens. He also spoke with them about the things needed to make a garden grow properly: tools, site, water, sun, plants and teamwork.

The students brainstormed a little about why someone would grow a garden. The young gardeners had a chance to share their favorite things about gardens and gardening.

The school has two raised beds, and the youth planted tomatoes, okra, hot peppers, hibiscus, marigolds, begonias, parsley, sweet basil and dill. The students grow their own gardens September through May and are taught a gardening curriculum, which emphasizes sustainable horticulture practices.

Robertson said that through hands-on activity, the students learned about mapping and constructing a garden bed.

“The students worked well together to make group decisions in planning the school garden and did a fantastic job planting all of the plants and flowers,” Robertson said.

In addition, Robertson said they develop job and life skills such as responsibility, teamwork, communication, problem solving and leadership.