This story originally published in the Peninsula Clarion
Bags of potatoes, bunches of carrots, arms-full of kale and turnips the size of basketballs were harvested by students from the Soldotna Montessori Charter School garden.
For the second year in a row, the elementary school hosted a farmers market. All of the proceeds go back into maintaining the garden for future students.
It costs about $400 to get the garden ready. This year’s proceeds will go toward a new hose and sprinkler.
At the market, every student had a job. Fourth-grader Amalia Freeman greeted people and gave tours of the garden before leading them to the produce. Other students picked produce, washed off vegetables, weighed products and took payment.
“It’s really enjoyable,” Freeman said. “My favorite part is greeting people and making sure people have fun and get fresh vegetables.”
The garden, which sits adjacent to the school parking lot, has many raised beds and a small orchard. All of it was built and assembled by the kids.
Terri Carter, a teacher at Soldotna Montessori Charter School said the project was kid-generated. In 2015, students told Carter they wanted a garden. That winter, Carter said data was collected to find a spot that received ample light and by the following spring, Carter acquired the funds and building began.
“The kids did it all,” Carter said. “They used the tools to drive screws, and they moved all the dirt. It was quite the undertaking.”
The first crops to go in were potatoes. Last year, the students were able to plant a small orchard of apple trees with the help of a grant from the Central Peninsula Garden Club.
“It’s been such a source of pride,” Carter said. “Every kid plants and every kid harvests. They’re learning so much.”