Bethlehem Elementary School students plant seeds for co-op garden

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Bethlehem Elementary School students plant seeds for co-op garden



BETHLEHEM — Nonnewaug High School Agriscience program Director Ed Belinsky tills the new garden Thursday at Bethlehem Elementary School. 


BETHLEHEM — The seeds have been planted for the first ever co-op garden project at Bethlehem Elementary School, and the community will soon reap the rewards.

Young students began dropping kale, spinach and snow peas Thursday morning in the L-shaped garden located in the back of the school with the help of students from the Ellis Clark Regional Agriscience program at Nonnewaug High School.

Both schools serve students in the Region 14 towns of Woodbury and Bethlehem.

The program, the brainchild of Region 14 Superintendent Joseph Olzacki, is a nod to Bethlehem’s rich farming tradition and looks to expand the study of agriscience, relationship building and support of the farm-to-school efforts in the community, he said.

“Growing and gardening are skills that you can take with you throughout life. Learning how to grow is both a responsible, and honorable, endeavor,” Olzacki said.

The garden’s bounty will be donated to local families in need.

BETHLEHEM — Bethlehem Elementary School 5th grader Logan Bohan plants a seed in the school garden on Thursday.


Bethlehem Elementary Principal Wendy Yatsenick said the educational possibilities that will sprout from the new garden are endless, with students participating in plantings, maintenance, harvest, business and commerce.

“I’m really looking forward to incorporating the garden into our daily life here,” Yatsenick said. “It has great implications for instruction in terms of science, journal writing and math.”

Nonnewaug Agriscience Director Ed Belinsky arrived Wednesday with his tractor to plow and till the soil.

The garden was designed by Nonnewaug junior Adeline Angelini who was on hand this week to assist students with their seed planting.

BETHLEHEM — Bethlehem Elementary School 5th grader Zach Szmajlo plants a seed in the school garden on Thursday.


“When they asked me if I wanted to help out, I agreed because I love to garden and thought it was a great idea to share that with students here,” said Angelini, of Woodbury, who worked with agriscience department head Jen Jedd to choose the plantings.

Thursday students planted seeds, all of which should grow well in the cooler weather, Angelini said. New seeds will be planted in the spring.

Yatsenick, who plans to offer an after-school garden club, said the garden is also a “fun distraction” from the realities faced by the ongoing pandemic. The project, she said, is included on Google Classroom to allow those students taking online classes to be a part of the project, as well.

Angelini said it will be a few weeks before anything pops out of the ground, but the garden appears to be generating excitement.

“I think it’s pretty cool that we’re going to have our own garden here at school,” said fifth-grade student Rocco Aversano. “Who doesn’t love fresh vegetables?”

The elementary school has applied for a $500 grant to covers the cost of seeds and supplies.