Students at Bashaw enjoy the gardening club.
To say students “dig” the gardens at William H. Bashaw Elementary would be an understatement.
At 8 a.m., it's controlled chaos as students tend to the gardens for 30 minutes.
They water the plants. They pluck weeds from the ground. They shake coffee grounds into the soil. They put old tomatoes into a compost pile. They pick peppers.
It might seem like work, but they love it.
Take Nate Geddie, for example, a kindergartner at Bashaw. He was one of the first students in the garden May 3. His disappointment about the running club's workout being canceled for the day was quickly lost in his enthusiasm for watering the plants. He used an empty laundry detergent bottle to pour water over just about every plant he could find. He would sprint back to a garbage can full of water to replenish his supply.
“Sometimes, it needs that water,” Geddie said of the plant he was watering.
Bruce Huddle, a fourth-grader, finds the gardens just as enjoyable.
“I do have to say, it is cool,” he said. “It’s actually kind of soothing.”
Huddle particularly enjoys picking the fruits of his labor when the vegetables are ripe and ready.
Evan Michel, a second grader, said his favorite part of the gardens is that he gets to watch the plants grow.
“I grew a cucumber that was this big,” he said, holding his hands up wide apart.
None of the gardens at Bashaw would have been possible, though, without Don Cady, a teacher’s aide at Bashaw. The gardens started in buckets outside his classroom four years ago. Now they’ve expanded to a whole section of the courtyard with repurposed pallets and ramps into raised boxes and plots Cady built himself.
Cady has to restrict the number of students allowed in the gardens at one time.
“There’s too many kids,” he said, smiling. “It’s too popular.”
Even with the restrictions, the students were tornadoes of activity, swirling through the gardens, catching Cady’s ear with question after question. He answered every question in turn, flitting through the garden.
Cady is happy with the success of the garden, because the students are learning.
“They learn how plants grow. They learn where food comes from,” Cady said.
School Registrar Julie Danke is impressed.
“He is very caring and nurturing,” she said of Cady. “I think they’ve learned so much about where their food comes from.”
Beyond the learning, the gardens also keep the memory of the late William H. Bashaw alive.
Michele Jones, a student support specialist, said the school plans to dedicate the gardens to Bashaw at its STEAM night on May 14.
“He loved gardening,” Jones said. “It definitely is an outdoor, living classroom.”
Danke echoed the sentiment.
“He would be extremely proud to have that named after him,” she said.