Parkside and its English as a Second Language students are taking over two hoop houses (green house structures) located on 6th and Norwich in Milwaukee. Through gardening, they are learning about other cultures, using the produce for cooking classes with local chefs and studying the positive effects of agriculture on their lives.
Listen to the audio story below to join Parkside’s ESL students on a field trip to the school’s offsite multicultural garden and learn more about the program.
Students of all ages at Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts are learning to cultivate and maintain ecosystems and agriculture through a new Aquaponics and Agriculture Program. Erin Dentice, a mother who worked at the school in a different capacity, wrote and received grant money to begin this program.
After receiving grants and in-kind donations, Dentice helped launched the program for the first time last year. Parkside students are also collaborating with students at Bay View High School for peer mentorship. They are also working together on a community mural.
Students eagerly ran off the bus and straight into the hoop houses. A small group of children ranging from kindergarteners to fifth graders brought seedlings they planted back at school to their garden where they plan to grow tons of herbs and produce.
Dentice says she wanted the multicultural hoop houses to be representative of the students who would be planting and cultivating the gardens. Before taking their first field trip to the hoop house, the students conducted a survey that represented at least 25 countries around the world. Students’ families responded to these surveys with the most popular produce or herbs from their respective countries. This determined what was planted. Basil, watermelon, cantaloupe, collard greens, cucumbers and tomatoes are among the many types of produce being grown at the hoop houses. What happens after produce is grown is even cooler.
Dentice brings chefs into the classroom to teach the students how to make different recipes with the produce they’ve grown. She says the students have already learned to can and preserve fruits and vegetables. The program also sells the preservatives, extra produce and seedlings during after school programs to continue to fund the program.