North Trail Elementary looking for summer help with butterfly gardenThe butterfly garden at North Trail Elementary School provides a valuable educational tool for just about every teacher in the building, but the summer months prove to be a little challenging.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
The butterfly garden at North Trail Elementary School provides a valuable educational tool for just about every teacher in the building, but the summer months prove to be a little challenging.
That’s why NTES art teacher Pam Tycer is looking for a little help over the summer months. She’s looking for volunteers to come out and weed, water and care for the butterfly garden so that, when students come back in the fall, the garden is up and ready to go.
North Trail’s butterfly garden was started a couple of years ago. At first, there was a small garden by the pond on the property, but the teachers really wanted it closer to the building. It was moved just to the north of the building, between the media center and a parking lot. And since then, the garden project has grown, in more ways than one.
Tycer designed much of the garden. Kids brought annuals from home to add to the garden. As they planted, the garden turned into what Tycer described as a “rainbow garden.”
Last year, a family donated two raised flower beds for the project. The year before that, the Farmington Education Foundation and the NTES Parent-Teacher Partnership purchased one as well. Those three beds are used by the kindergarten classes. This year, the kindergarteners planted a salad garden, with all the makings of a lettuce salad. They’ll be able to harvest some of those veggies by the end of the school year, too.
The garden also contains a sunflower patch, planted by second graders. In the fall, when the sunflowers are in full bloom, Tycer takes students outside to sketch the flowers as part of her art class. And since the garden is right outside the media center’s large windows, students were able to watch birds come and get the seeds from the dead sunflowers over the winter.
“They can see it, feel it, touch it, and that’s how they learn best,” Tycer said. “A lot of the art they do in art class is nature-connected, too.”
That’s why she’s looking for families to help take care of the garden over the summer. With endless possibilities for educating students, it is important that the garden at North Trail is cared for when students and teachers are not in school.
Last year, Tycer had about 22 families who helped with the garden over the summer. She would like to double that for this summer. Tycer keeps a blog for the garden, so families who volunteer can check in and see what was done the previous week, and what will have to be done during the week they are responsible.
“The families who have done it, they’ve had a lot of good comments about it. Some of them say they don’t have room for a garden or they have never had one and this gives them a taste of what gardening is all about,” she said.
Tycer sends out a form to interested families, then makes the schedule. Usually, she tries to schedule two or three families for each week so the families do not have to worry about taking care of the garden every day. She also gets help from local Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops.
“It’s not a fancy garden, but it’s enough to get kids interested in being outside and what’s going on in their back yard,” Tycer said.
For more information on the butterfly garden, visit the North Trail link of the school district’s website, www.farmington.k12.mn.us. Once on North Trail’s site, go to the Art link to find a weekly update on the garden. Families who are interested in helping can also call the school, 651-460-1800.