Dig up, Plant up and Step up!

Sign made with bottle caps but the Jr Gardeners for the Garden Tour & Tea which the Jr Gardeners of Hillcrest Elementary were a part of this year..

Jr. Gardeners showing us how deep to plant the tulips.
Lavender sachets made by the Jr Gardeners.
Jr Gardeners tasting carrots they picked from the garden.

Hillcrest Elementary School Junior Gardeners

Plant a seed and it will grow.....

Helene Valdez, Carol Henry, Chairpersons

 5 years ago a seed was planted and now Oak Harbor Hillcrest Elementary school is one of the greenest schools in America.  Thanks in a big part to the Oak Harbor Garden club for starting the garden program and sponsoring 85 Jr. Gardeners every year. The project began in 2011 with Patty Van Dyke’s first grade class.

New ideas and projects have been added each year as the school garden continues to grow with the help and sponsorship from the Oak Harbor Garden Club and partnering with local organizations and grants, along with wonderful teachers and a very supportive principle and staff.

 14 new raised beds were built in 2012. The Jr. Gardeners collect the garden harvest and then it is donated to the local food bank. The following year an irrigation system was added so the garden can grow and produce during the summer months. Students, teachers and garden club members volunteer to harvest and weed weekly while school is out.

Last year we were able to build an outdoor classroom with grant money. Now more teachers are using the garden, bringing their classes out to explore, enjoy and learn in the garden.  

 Partnering with local organizations and clubs we were able to install rain barrels, worm bins and a chicken coop. Students now recycle lunchroom waste daily to feed the worms, their castings are used to enrich the garden soil or sold to raise money for needed supplies. The eggs are also donated or sold.

We have a native plant garden, a bean pole teepee, rainbow garden and 2 apple trees. Strawberries and raspberries along with a shade garden and spring garden. The Jr. Gardeners grow sunflowers, catmint, herbs and vegetables. We use row covers and hoop houses and this year the PTA raised money for a green house!

Hillcrest was honored in June as a National Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education for our innovative program. We were one of only 58 schools  in the nation awarded for environmental awareness initiatives. Hillcrest’s nominee presentation form for the award describes how we use our garden as both a teaching tool and way to reduce an environmental impact.

 New ideas are flowing and the “green theme” is contagious. Jr Gardeners take home what they are learning and parents and family are incorporating these healthy life style changes at home.

Working with OHGC Civic Improvement chairpersons, Karolyn and Arlene and the City of Oak Harbor the Jr. gardeners planted over 250 acorns that will be kept and cared for in the school garden for 1 or 2 years until planted at the entrance to Oak Harbor in hopes of preserving the genetics of our towns namesake the “Garry Oaks”.

As with any garden, fall is time for clean up and they have been cleaning up the garden and preparing the beds for winter and cold crops. The last of the garden harvest has been taken to the Help House and students are writing in their journals and will continue to do so throughout the year.

We work with the Jr. Gardeners on Tuesdays 945 – 230 pm.  If you would like to help or participate, with the Jr Gardeners, contact Carol Henry or Helene Valdez.


From  Washington Green Schools......

Unsurprisingly, Hillcrest Elementary did a wonderful job on School Grounds and Gardens. WONDERFULLY done, and I feel very proud to officially certify you as a Washington Green School! I love that it's such a school-wide effort, and was inspired by the use of the garden as a learning space and the potential to integrate crops into the cafeteria next year. Congratulations on creating such a rich, all-encompassing resource for your school and surrounding community.

An awards ceremony is in the works so that we can present your award and say a few words about your fantastic accomplishments!

​Junior Gardeners update Oct 2016:
Carol Henry, Carol Young, Carol Knaack and I are looking forward to another great year in the Hillcrest Elementary school garden. It is always fun getting to know the new group of Jr. Gardeners. This year we will be working with 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders from six classrooms.
The first two weeks of garden club at the school were devoted to gathering and learning about seeds. Michelle Pettyjohn, a former teacher, explained the science of seeds, then the students looked for seeds through-out the garden, collecting, comparing and discussing what they had found. They also were able to pick and sample tomatoes and dig up potatoes.
Next up is apple week. Mrs. Henry collected the apples from the school garden during the summer and made applesauce for 175 students. We will have a demonstration on making apple juice. It will not be pasteurized so the children will only sample apple juice purchased from the store. We will have many apple varieties for them to sample from our home trees and dehydrated apple slices to taste also.
As you can tell, we are off and running every Tuesday, except Garden Club day, and we can always use an extra hand or two. Our first session starts at 9:15 then 10:30 and 1:30. We would be glad if you could come for one or all.
Home depot has generously donated seeds for our garden. There are so many we will be sharing them with the entire school district. If you get a chance to thank them, it would be very much appreciated.

Plant a seed and it will grow.....