Grantee Blog 2020

Learning and growing at St. Cloud!

We were super excited to finally return to an in-person school day at St. Cloud Elementary school in February. March saw a return to remote learning for two weeks following Spring break, but I’m pleased to report that since April we have not had any further interruptions.

Our gardening guru, Cherie, has been able to meet almost weekly with the students in the Y’s St. Cloud After School program, engaging them with vegetable tastings, seed planting and other hands on activities.

The tasting sessions have been very popular and have included sunflower sprouts, asparagus, green beans and kohlrabi. First the students would learn about the vegetable, comparing the seeds with the full grown vegetable and then taste the vegetable, making the planting exercise more meaningful. The students really liked the simply prepared kohlrabi, raw and seasoned with salt and pepper. Kohlrabi is a cruciferious vegetable, just like cabbage, broccoli and kale – not usually on most kids favorite’s list.

The warmer weather has seen the students enjoying time outside tending the beds by making mulch (tearing up cardboard), and also building trellis for the tomatoes this summer. There’s also been time for rolling down the hill and being kids – another reason why this time together as a group, in-person, has been such an antidote to all of the online learning.

As the garden preparations continue this Spring, we are also working on recruiting more families through the St. Cloud PTA and surrounding community to help with summer watering and harvesting, and looking forward to meeting with the Principal, Mr Price, about some ideas to develop the garden area into an outdoor learning space.

About the Grantee

West Essex YMCA

The West Essex YMCA, a Branch of the Metro YMCA of the Oranges, is a mission driven organization and trusted community partner in youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. The Y has been serving the needs of the community for over 50 years, providing a wide variety of activities and programs in an environment welcoming all.