Education Projects

Conscious Concepts Prove Perfectly Fruitful for Elementary School Science Club

In 2008, the principal at Pine Grove Elementary School (PGES) signed off on a petition to start a “Science Club” that would reach out to the 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students.

The club’s goal was to teach the students basic gardening techniques and expose them to different types of agriculture.

In 2013 we became the first elementary school in the nation to get certified by the University of Florida’s IFUS Agriculture Extension office as a U-Pick Farm.

Today, we start each year with ten 4th and ten 5th grade students with the concept of taking on a new aspect of agriculture as well as maintaining those that have endured throughout the years. We have built and maintained for two years environments for breeding, raising and selling rabbits and chickens as well as an aquaponics system. We have been successful in the past with raised beds and vertical (stackers) gardening with over 1,000 strawberry plants. A long-term mixed fruit garden was established that has five varieties of Muscadine grapes, ten Brown Turkey fig trees, and three Florida Peach trees.

None of these projects would be possible without the support of Dr. Maria Scunziano-Singh and Dr. Pariksith Singh through the Auroveda Foundation. With their support, we have gone from six small raised bed gardens to commercial quality infrastructure in all our projects. They have been an integral part of the clubs’ ability to touch the lives of hundreds of club members and thousands of students here at PGES over the past eight years.

With the support of the University of Florida’s Agricultural Extension office, Hernando County native plant association, PGES’ Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), and a hand full of private donors, we removed an aging pond and its surrounding overgrown garden and replaced it with a 3,100 sq. foot Florida Friendly garden. This garden was designed by club members one year and installed by members the following year. This garden is a no water, no fertilize garden and has been utilized by thousands of students, other local clubs, and community activities throughout the years.

Currently, we have been given the task to establish a school farm that will be able to grow green leafy crops. The crops will be harvested, cleaned and delivered to our café for students to enjoy two to three times a week. We hope to take the “Farm to school” concept to a new level. This new concept will cut the lunchroom produce costs drastically and transform the slogan “Farm to School” to “Farm in School”.

About the Author:

Doug Poteet
Auro Community Garden Co-Manager
Pine Grove Elementary School Science Specials Teacher

Doug was born, raised, educated and trained in elementary education along with agriculture on the islands of Hawaii. For the past 17 years he has been living in Hernando County, Florida, teaching Science at Pine Grove Elementary to students in grades K-5. There he Co-founded a Science/Garden club that has been teaching students the JOY of gardening and eating GOOD food for over a decade. Doug also serves as a Co-Manager at Auro Community Garden since 2011.

More From the Pine Grove Elementary Science Club

Auro Community Garden

4095 Broad Street
Brooksville, FL 34604

Phone: 352-238-9091

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