NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Gardening and sustainability lessons continue at Nacogdoches ISD schools. Beautiful gardens remain, but changes to the program are leading to more personal growth for the students.
The sounds within TJR Elementary La Jardin de los Ninos, help provide the English translation - the garden of the children.
The garden is prolific.
"That's lettuce," a volunteer said.
"Kale," the students said.
"Yeah, that's right. Curly Kale," the volunteer replied.
Why does it flourish? Resilient Nacogdoches leader Jim Lemon has his own theory.
"I think it's because of the kids, "Lemon said. "A lot of the people say it's the sun, the water and the soil. I think it's the kids."
Last year, every child at TJR got about one day in the garden. Too many kids. Not enough time.
This year, the garden club is one of many electives second and fourth graders can select.
"We're going to have to cook these up pretty fast here," the volunteer said.
One on one instruction is provided for a manageable group that is genuinely interested in gardening and new ideas, like a chicken tractor.
"Which is a portable chicken coop," Lemon said. "So the chickens are actually preparing the soil for growing food."
"Scoot up underneath them.," said Anne Tindell, a volunteer. "Give them a lift."
"Okay, I got this," a student said.
This year, the Texas A&M Agriculture Extension Agency shared its Learn, Grow, Eat, and Go curriculum. It tracks the program's success.
"Do you like to eat tomatoes?" a volunteer asked.
"Yes," a student replied.
"So what we're trying to do is to prove to the world that needs numbers that what we're doing is a really good thing," Lemon said.
On the high school level, the Organic Living Club is helping Somalis and people of other ethnic backgrounds grow up in a field of tolerance.
"We're doing a lot of things on this campus to heal hurts and I'm really proud to be a part of that," said Cathy Pruett, a teacher at NHS.
It's a lot more than just growing something good to eat.
Keep Nacogdoches Beautiful recently awarded seven NISD campuses funds to create gardens and implement recycling programs.