The Grow La Crosse (GROW) Hamilton/SOTA School Garden was created in 2013 in a collaborative effort by GROW, parents, teachers, administration, and community volunteers. GROW, a local non-profit, continues to develop and maintain the garden while also providing quality programming for 300 students at the school. The garden is a hands-on, outdoor education and growing space which is utilized for taste test and curriculum-connected lessons at least 51 times in the spring and another 51 in the fall. Also, the garden is accessible to students several days a week during recess and during after-school programs where students can investigate, taste, help with maintenance, build community and just breathe.
The garden, with both raised beds and vertical garden boxes, features a wide range of organic gardening techniques and provides experiential learning opportunities for children. “Vegetables and fruits are planted in the school garden by students and are harvested and utilized in the cafeteria or in garden taste test lessons and snacks. ” says Kari Bersagel Braley, Program Director for GROW La Crosse. “We provide students with authentic learning experiences as they are involved with every step from seed to table: examining, touching, smelling, tasting and growing. Not only do these experiences connect them to healthy food and nature, but also helps improve their attitudes towards trying new foods.”
Expansion to New Lot!
We also have a garden at 807 Johnson Street to serve the children at Hamilton and SOTA school.
The school garden was made possible through a purchase made by Shelter Development. The property is a vacant city lot located kitty-corner to Hamilton Early Learning Center in La Crosse. Shelter Development, who received a grant from Organic Valley to buy the land, is a non-profit organization that helps other non-profits with real estate needs.
GROW has agreed to develop and maintain the land as a garden space for students that will be used for learning experiences and for growing produce for student programming.
- Established in 2012
- Students served: ~ 300
- Program Director: Kari Bersagel-Braley
- Area: 520 ft2
- Raised Beds: 13
- Includes 8 hanging planter boxes