In East Meadow, learning and growing out at Barnum Woods Elementary School's garden


As the school year ends for Barnum Woods Elementary School, the Recycling and Repurposing Club celebrated the success of its flourishing gardens with a June 6 ribbon cutting ceremony.

The garden program at Barnum Woods, which began this school year, provides students with practical education. By taking care of a garden, students learn about research, problem solving, and how to create sustainable systems.

“The children are so excited to be part of our recycling repurposing club,” said Recycling and Repurposing Club Advisor Jennifer Lasher. “They are learning about sustainability, they are learning about stewardship, and they are learning about how to take care of our Earth and our environment.”

The garden consists of three outdoor beds with trellises, hydroponics, and lighting systems, which are used to grow a variety of vegetables.

“We planted pepper seeds, cucumber seeds, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, and carrots,” Lasher said. “Our goal is that we will be able to share all of these vegetables with our community.”

The club’s activities combine lessons from multiple topics throughout the school year and ground them in a real-world application. The lesson plan will resume next school year, and club members will review what ideas were successful from the prior year, and what factors might have caused the harvest to turn out poorly. In all cases, students will analyze their results and form a new plan with what they learned.

“This will be a learning laboratory, so we will have classes out there conducting investigations and really going into the scientific method,” said Barnum Woods Elementary School Principal Gregory Bottari. “So, this is not only something good for the earth, it’s something good for the educational curriculum.”

Interest in a garden program at Barnum Woods Elementary started when Reworld, formerly known as Covanta, made similar programs possible across Long Island, said Melody Schiller, reading teacher and a Planning and Management Team chairperson at Barnum.

“We finally have our school gardens that we’ve been dreaming about for so many years, with the help of Reworld donating these amazing gardens, our fabulous teachers who are leading the gardening club, and our incredible students have worked so hard on this,” Schiller said. “Now, the whole school can enjoy the gardens and see the endless benefits in terms of enjoyment and learning that we can get from gardening.”

The gardens Reworld installed at Barnum Elementary are prefabricated units put in place this past November, Fiori Iadevaia said, the facility safety program manager at Reworld.

Reworld has done similar installations nearby at Meadowbrook Elementary School, the Gerald Ryan Outreach Center in Wyandanch, and several schools in New Jersey and Virginia.

The students began growing seeds indoors, and moved them to the garden beds once the plants were strong enough for the outdoor conditions.

Reworld’s garden installations are intended to be an education tool, as well as something that contributes to the local community.

“This is something that is sustainable and will have far reaching outcomes, far more than just the students here at Barnum Woods,” Bobby Green, a facility manager at Reworld said. “This is something that you can take. You can grow with it, you can learn with it, and you can help the communities in which you serve as well.”

“We are so excited to watch the garden grow, but more importantly, to watch the children grow in the garden,” Maureen Early, lead communications affairs specialist at Reworld added. “We know this project is going to enhance the framework of learning for everyone here at the school through academic achievement, environmental stewardship, building social connections for healthy lifestyles — the opportunities truly are endless.”

The ribbon cutting ceremony included a performance of the song “Sing” by Joe Raposo, led by music teacher Meegan Hughes, and a highlight reel of the memories made by the club during the school year.

Local community leaders Matthew Melnick, president of the Board of Education; Kenneth Rosner, superintendent of schools; Thomas McKevitt, Nassau County legislator; and New York State Assemblyman John Mikulin attended the ceremony.