Burgess Peterson Community Garden

“Do you want fries with that?”

The Burgess-Peterson Academy garden is dedicated to getting East Atlanta’s children to happily answer that question with, “No thanks, I’m going to eat this veggie I grew” — at least some of the time.

Teachers, administrators, parents and volunteers from the neighborhood are joining to promote healthy, home-grown, organic fruit and vegetables and to give the students the knowledge they need to grow their own.

The garden is made up of three areas: raised garden beds in the school’s large courtyard, an orchard behind the school and an outdoor classroom in a wooded area on school property.

Lessons in the garden are planned with the school’s curriculum and goals in mind. For example, the week particle size is discussed in science class, the garden lesson discusses the varying sizes of the particles that make up soil: sand, silt and clay. When the week includes lessons on how to make change, students harvest sunflower root balls and seed heads and figure out how much they’ll be paid — on paper — so they can then decide how many spiced pumpkin seeds they can buy with their earnings. When chickens come to visit, the kids calculate how many eggs the hens can produce in a year.

Along with these lessons, the gardening gets done. Old crops are cleared away along with the sunflower harvest. The kids get to dig in the dirt as they fill the beds with new soil once they know its makeup.

The courtyard garden includes a butterfly garden to attract beneficial insects. The orchard includes varieties that will expand the students’ taste buds, such as pomegranate, paw paw, figs and a jujube tree.

The outdoor classroom offers these city kids a chance to experience a forest and learn about plants native to Georgia and their role in the state’s history.

Gardening is about giving plants life and life is about learning. The Burgess-Peterson garden aims to help students do both.

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