St. Augustine High School teacher helps students grow gardens

Students learn about water conservation through grants

For Amy Arnow students at St. Augustine High School, hands-on learning is important.

So Arnow, a teacher for mentally disabled and autistic students, got a grant that allowed them to help plant two gardens at the school and learn more about water conservation.

“The kids are really proud of it,” Arnow said.

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The $ 740 grant came from the St. Johns River Water Management District Blue Schools Grant program, she said.

Arnow teaches science and other subjects to students in grades 9-12. With her help, more than 20 students built a small raised vegetable garden near their mobile classroom, planting herbs, carrots, broccoli and radishes. They also installed flowers and plants next to the school library.

Planting began in December and the vegetable garden produced enough food for the students to get a taste of their efforts.

“The radishes were a favorite. The kids loved the radishes,” Arnow said.

One day, while they were making a garden salad, Arnow spread seeds out on a plate and asked the students to consider all the tiny seeds produced.

“They love to see things turn into something different – like we had caterpillars that make a pupa, then the butterfly comes out. We had tadpoles that turned into frogs and then into frogs, and we released them. here.… You know, despite the pandemic, we were able to do some really cool things, ”she said.

The project was supported by the agroscience program at First Coast Technical College. People at the college removed stones and provided soil, Arnow said.

As part of the project, students learned about reducing water consumption and shared information about water conservation.

“The kids really enjoyed it and they got into it,” Arnow said. “They spread the word. We made posters. We practiced what we preached, so it was really cool.”

On Wednesday morning, Arnow took a tour of the gardens and called on the students to join her for a photo.

Erica Walker, 16, cautiously entered the flower garden to take a photo, warning those accompanying her along the way.

“Don’t step on the plants,” she said.

Walker and other students value their role in developing and maintaining factories, Arnow said. Arnow used the gardens to encourage students to do other work.

The flower garden features a foxtail fern, hibiscus, begonias, and other colorful additions.

“I water them,” Walker said.

Other students and staff joined Arnow near the library for a photo, including 15-year-old student Kaleb Hodges.

Hodges said the experience was “pretty cool” and that he enjoyed eating tomatoes.

“They taste like ketchup,” he said.

Arnow said she wanted to expand the vegetable garden so that it produced enough food for the children to take home and share with their families.

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