The sound of laughter fills the greenhouse at the Hillview Urban Agriculture Center. Almost three dozen students from the Coulee Montessori Adolescent program are inside. The volunteers are in groups, their hands covered in soil, and they are potting tomato and zucchini seedlings.
“Coulee Montessori is here today helping us prepare for our plant sale,” said Hillview Urban Agriculture Center program coordinator Andrea Schaefer. “They are going to learn a lot today, basically everything about plants – how they survive, both in the pot and out, how to take care of them at home, and what they need to grow.”
“The students love to get their hands dirty and feel like they’re helping,” said Coulee Montessori teacher Nine Dodge. “This a really good thing that we do, getting to try new things, and get to work together in a group. We talk about service learning and about what it means to be a part of a community. They really enjoy that connection and feeling like they’re helping something bigger than themselves.”
The Hillview Urban Agriculture Center has limited staff and relies heavily on volunteers. The center’s staff provide guidance to get the students started on a job and help them learn about what’s going on in the greenhouse, but the kids handle most of the work.
“I really like doing this,” said Coulee Montessori sixth-grader Natalie Schreader. “I like to help out, in the community, to know I’m doing something that helps others. I think it’s important to know what work goes in behind the things that we might take for granted sometimes. You need to know what kind of hard work people put in to get food on your dinner table. I think it’s important to encourage people to do that.”
Interested in learning more about theHillview Urban Agriculture Center or want to volunteer to help, visit www.hillviewuac.org or email email@example.com for more information. The Hillview Urban Agriculture Center plant sale will be held on Saturday, May 13, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Center’s greenhouse located at 624 Vine Street in La Crosse.