Solvay: Greens in the garden

Solvay eighth graders enjoyed a bountiful harvest last week, after just over a month of planning, planting and cultivation.

Four Home and Careers classes, lead by teacher Judith Timmins, planted their garden of greens in early May in a courtyard-turned-garden at Solvay Middle School.

Last week, the students harvested romain lettuce, mescalin, arugula, and spinach, and will prepare the produce this week in healthy recipes.

The project began with a presentation by Kara Timmins, a physician assistant at St. Joseph's Hospital. Timmins pointed out the nutritional benefits of greens, which pack antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber into a low-fat and versatile package.

The students then studied the organic farming ways of Brendan and Michelle O'Keefe, of Monarch Farms in Skaneateles. The O'Keefes visited the classes and helped seed some of the plants indoors, while teaching the importance of buying locally for freshness and to stimulate the economy.

The remaining plants were direct-seeded into the ground in the first week of May, and the potted seeds were transplanted into the garden.

For the following five weeks, it was up to the students to care for their gardens, compensating for the cold and dry, then hot and humid weather.

By Thursday, it was clear the time and hard work they had put in was going to pay off.

Armfulls of greens were carried from the garden to the kitchen to be washed, drawing sounds of surprise and excitement from students and teachers.

I didn't expect this much, said Dan, 13, from Lakeland, as he watched his classmates rinse the leaves.

Teacher Judith Timmins said she believes this is the first garden of it's kind at Solvay - but the lesson did not end with the harvest.

This week, they are making mesclun pizza, arugula pesto, turkey and spinach wraps, and a romaine salad to test their garden greens, she said.

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