Planting the Seeds by Calihan Consulting
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson
What started as the question of “how to leverage urban agriculture as a fresh food source for our local food pantries” became much more exciting as Dr. Mary Lee Calihan wondered how to engage our elementary students in the process of growing and harvesting these vegetables. Research is beginning to appear that supports the many ways school gardens can positively impact a child’s development. As people of faith, we are further prompted to consider an “ecological conversion” as we strive to become better stewards of our planet, as outlined in the recent encyclical letter, Laudato Si’, of Pope Francis.
Planting the Seeds was launched in 2016, pairing elementary school science instruction with the solution of real life problems. Dr. Calihan began working with students in creating vegetable gardens on school grounds that will provide fresh produce each year for their parish food pantries. The St. John Berchmans’ community began Planting the Seeds last spring as they embarked on a pilot program to serve the hungry in the Logan Square neighborhood. A rich science curriculum is embedded within this service learning, as students investigated plant ecology, ecosystems, soil, compost, conservation, nutrition, and health, while designing and constructing raised beds for their garden. (See Construction Day at St. John Berchmans)
Another aspect of Planting the Seeds" has been the Kindergarten hatching project. For the second year, the kindergarten students at St. John Berchmans have successfully incubated and hatched chickens in their classrooms. This rich learning unit engages the entire student body, as well as providing curricular connections which cross all subject areas. There were even enough chicks this year to share the experience with other grade levels, so that all of the students could observe the baby chicks up close! At the end of the week, the chicks are delivered to "Farmer Tim" who owns a poultry farm in DeKalb county.