Miami Lakes Educational Center goes beyond STEM in new garden

Wednesday, January 30, 2019 0 Comments

Miami Lakes Educational Center goes beyond STEM in new garden
Next to the basketball court and near the bus loop, lies a humble garden surrounded by a chain-link fence. For years, the garden never called anyone’s attention: it was barren, dead, unkept, unknown. This year, however, Miami Lakes Education Center (MLEC) is proud to present its brand new garden, whose renovations began on November 6. It has managed to continue growing and thriving and will hopefully continue to steadily become more and more abundant in the future.
To achieve this, assistant principal Michael Windisch applied for a grant, the Miami Lakes Town Foundation, which rewarded a thousand dollars. Toward the end of October it was announced that MLEC won the grant and he immediately decided to start working on it. In order to do this, all teachers and staff were asked to come in November 6, a teacher planning day, to work together remodeling the garden.
“We moved all the concrete blocks out of here, we put them on the road, we painted the top level of the blocks the teal color of the school to make it look good, then we removed all the old soil that was full of junk - it was a mess, said Windisch. “We put a layer of rocks on the bottom because it doesn’t drain very well so if you water or it rains too much, it would just sit there and the plants would die.”
Among the plants growing in the garden are herbs like cilantro, parsley, basil and oregano; peppers, such as jalapeno peppers, green peppers, red peppers and shishito peppers; as well as some other vegetables like onions, broccoli, cauliflower and sage.
“Right now it’s just me,” continued Windisch, “I’m coming every day during lunch to water the garden. I hope the biology classes come down and take a look, it would be good to show them around. A lot of the teachers have been bringing down their classes and have helped put together the garden. The ultimate goal is hopefully to have enough vegetables and herbs so that Chef Hunt's culinary classes can use them as well.”
English teachers have taken their classes down to the garden for some inspiration. Ms. Altamirano’s tenth grade honors class went down and decorated the fence with their original poetry. Mr. Puentes’s classes also visited the garden and spent part of the class period writing.
The garden is growing and so are MLEC students’ creative juices. As the most recent crops continue to grow, so are plans for the garden’s future.
Although the garden is still new, there are already tons of ideas that the administration is hoping to incorporate both in the long term and the everyday sustaining of it. From creating a beautiful banner to decorating the empty fences that surround the garden, to finding new seats to place around so that anyone who wishes to spend time there during lunch can comfortably do so, even creating QR codes that students could use on their phones to learn a little about each plant.
“I’m very pleased that we were able to get this grant and start making some improvements in the garden. It can be a useful place for all different subject areas of the students to come down. Whoever wants to become involved can, it belongs to the school, not to any particular group but I know that some classes have come down,” said Principal Diaz. “We’re looking to grow other things as the seasons change - someone told me that they used to grow strawberries out here as well as tomatoes and we’re looking toward planting those.”
“It’s really working out,” continued Diaz, “everything seems to be growing and thriving so we’ll see how things go. People are starting to use it and as we start using it, we’ll come across more ways to use it. We’ll see where it goes.”

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