Grantee Blog

Weed Contest; Walking Tour at Redwood

Horace said, “Though you drive nature out with a pitchfork, she will always find her way back.” A recent weeding session taught Redwood gardening students what the Roman poet, senator, and soldier meant: weeds that had been removed only a week before made another appearance on the grounds of the school garden.

To encourage students to pull the weeds by the root, we held a contest where the winner was the student who could pull the longest root. In the accompanying picture, you will see the winner. The root on this weed, which has tentatively been identified as horsenettle (Solanum carolinense), was nearly a foot long.

Weeds are not just unwanted plants, however. Included in this gardening lesson was the fact that weeds can sometimes be highly useful: dandelions, for example, are not only rich in vitamin C, they are also a source for vitamins A and K, and calcium and potassium. Dandelion tea can be quite bitter, but combined with other herbs and sweetened with honey or stevia, it can be delicious. What might Ralph Waldo Emerson say about that? “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”


A team of walkers did the safe route to school assessment, the purpose of which was to determine if four different routes were safe for walkers or bike riders.. There were 22 participants: the principal and teachers, two police officers, the assistant town engineer, PTA parents, a YMCA executive and SACC director and four students. Lisa Lee and the EZ Ride program helped to facilitate the assessment. We are anxiously awaiting their determination.

About the Grantee

Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges-West Orange

The West Essex YMCA features an indoor pool with aquatic programs and swim lessons, cardio and strength conditioning equipment, fitness classes for all levels, sports and enrichment classes, and a supervised child watch.