A warm, spring breeze greeted students as they planted wildflower seeds and a dogwood tree at Christopher Farms Elementary.
“Today I’m learning a lot about the different types of trees,” said Elisabeth Bulthouse, a fourth grader in Kelly McNeely’s class who is in the class garden club. “We’ve also learned how to plant carrots and when to water them. I think more people should have vegetable gardens so they don’t need to drive to the store so much.”
Representatives from Dominion Energy helped the school celebrate Arbor Day April 30.
“Who wants to plant a tree?” Scott Detar, distribution forestry coordinator at Dominion Energy asked the students, who cheerfully raised their hands. “It’s a perfect day.”
Students took turns shoveling dirt around the sapling and planting wildflower seeds in a nearby garden. Dominion Energy’s Project Plant It! provides supplies to teach young gardeners about the importance of trees and pollinators.
Detar and the students talked about everything from photosynthesis to the many things made from trees: pencils, furniture, houses. The dogwood will eventually grow about 15 feet high, helping shade students as they harvest vegetables and study insects and plants in the garden.
Sustainability is part of the culture at Christopher Farms. PTA members helped spruce up the school garden to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week under the theme, “Thanks for helping us grow.”
Teachers incorporate life-cycle lessons about butterflies and pollination. In second grade, students studied Native Americans and planted the “three sisters”– corn, beans and squash – which provided sustainable agriculture to indigenous peoples.
Students in the Fourth Grade Garden Club are studying Jamestown and the hardships the colonists faced. The vegetable garden idea was a springboard off this learning to bring in real-world concepts.
Dominion Energy has distributed more than 730,000 free trees and wildflower seeds to students through its Project Plant It! program, including 150 saplings and 150 packets of wildflower seeds that Christopher Farms students took home on Arbor Day.
“The students are so excited to receive their trees today,” said Debbie Vickery, gifted resources teacher. “Now they will have the knowledge of how to plant it and care for it for years to come. What a beautiful thing it is for young people to plant a seedling and watch it grow and thrive over time alongside themselves.
“We are so thankful for Project Plant-It and their generosity each year. We look forward to many new projects in the future.”