Inspired by an article in the Seventh Grade literature anthology, students enrolled in Mr. Smith’s LA: 7 course got positively agricultural on Tuesday, January 29, 2019.
The article, Hillary Schwei’s “Urban Farming is Growing a Greener Future,” depicts in words and photographs how today’s farmers are often city-based, using any available free space to raise fruits and vegetables. Students in the class were offered an opportunity to embrace their inner farmer while competing to raise a plant on Mr. Smith’s classroom balcony. The “Best of Show” winner would receive a $25.00 gift card of their choice.
Suddenly, after a lackluster initial reaction, the students were excited about urban farming.
To compete, students first had to participate in a “Research Race,” using their laptops to scour the internet for articles and pictures that fit several agriculture-specific topics and criteria. This activity alone took up twenty minutes of class time and was quite competitive, as the pictures show.
The top two finishers in each class received a clay pot, planting soil, and their choice of seeds – both vegetable and floral. (The students could provide their own pot, if desired.). Once planted, students watered their seeds and hoped – as all farmers do – for a successful growing season. In a few days’ time, God provided some rain. And more rain. And even more rain.
Students who did not “win” were also encouraged to bring a gardening pot and a desire to grow. While not in the running for the gift certificate, they could (and did!) share in the experience of urban agriculture. Several students undertook the challenge and their plants (when they break through the soil) will stand proudly alongside the “winner.”
In a few weeks, Middle School teachers as yet unnamed will evaluate the plants students are currently raising. These unnamed educators – not Mr. Smith! – will make the final decision as to which Seventh Grader has the greenest thumb.
This activity was designed to encourage Seventh Grade students to actively embrace gardening, witnessing for themselves the miracle that occurs each time a seed is planted. It is hoped that seeing the plants grow, and tenderly caring for them, will serve as a reminder of the manner in which Our Lord plants each of us and tends us every day of our lives. God is present even in the smallest of miracles!
Spring helps us all to remember that simple truth.
By: Kevin Smith, 7th grade, ELA