There still may be plenty of snow on the ground, but Pleasantville's is looking ahead to the planting season.
The school's edible garden, which Assistant Principal Cindy Kramer said has been around for about six or seven years, has been awarded a $500 grant from New York Kids Growing Food, an initiative of Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Science (CALS).
According to Kramer, the garden was the brainchild of Principal Peggy Galotti, who was the school's assistant principal at the time, and the Parent Teacher Association.
"All the classes are involved," said Kramer. "The students do all of the planting and the harvesting."
Students "plant crops usually twice a year," she explained, first in the early spring, and then towards the end of the school year, when the first crops are ready to be harvested. The second set of edibles is typically ready for harvest when school is back in session in the fall, while staff and PTA members care for the garden during the summertime.
The garden is also used as a tool for students who may be nervous about heading off to kindergarten for the first time, said Kramer, who invites families new to the district and incoming students to enjoy the garden during the off-season.
"It's a fun, easy way to help them become more comfortable," she said.
Oftentimes, classroom lessons are extended into the garden to enhance learning. For example, as part of the fourth graders' studies on colonial America, the students plant herbs used during the time period and then harvest them to enjoy during the annual Revolutionary Day.
Kramer said she asked PTA garden coordinator co-chairs to generate a wish list for the garden when she applied for the grant, which included items like child-size watering cans and other tools, along with "wooden trellises for vine plants, a couple of arches and an outdoor sink."
The grant also requires a community partnership element, explained Kramer. To fulfill this, local farmer Kasha Bialas will be attend the classes' planting and harvestings to teach students gardening tips and tricks.
"She is going to advise the PTA as we move forward this year," said Kramer.
The garden was chosen as the winner in the category of an already established garden, while another grant was given out for a new garden.
New York Kids Growing Food said the elementary school's effort "demonstrated interest, enthusiasm, ability and commitment to a successful, high-quality school gardening program."