Earlier this month, several members of the South Seneca High School Gardening Class, taught by Mrs. Patricia Parsons, working in conjunction with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Seneca County, made their way over to the elementary school building to share this year’s New York State Agriculture in the Classroom Agricultural Literacy Week book with second graders. 

This year’s book, Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table, written by Jacqueline Briggs-Martin, is based on a true story. The book describes how Will Allen transformed a paved city lot into a prosperous community garden, and discusses how the use of worm power helped to make their gardening ventures successful.  

Earlier this year, the Gardening Class was the recipient of a 2021 CHS Foundation Grant which was used to start a vermicomposting program in the high school. Two Urban Worm Bins, plus four thousand worms, were purchased to help students learn more about the vermicomposting cycle. One of these bins is located in our Gardening classroom area, and the other is being utilized near the cafeteria area. Food waste, such as banana peels, apple cores, and carrot peels, are used to feed our worms, which, in turn, creates rich worm castings that can be applied to our classroom plants and eventually our garden bed areas.

With all of the extensive learning on vermicomposting this fall and winter, it was very appropriate for the Gardening class to read this book to our second grade students and do a vermicomposting exploration activity with them. After reading the book, high school students introduced the worm taxi to the second graders, allowing them to observe the worms using their senses of touch, vision, and smell. Many students enjoyed seeing the different sizes of worms that were in the taxi, a smaller composting unit that transported worms to the classroom. They made excellent observations and identified several ways in which worms can help the gardening process.

Overall, this was an excellent experience for all of the students, young and old! Each second grade classroom that we visited was able to keep the book that we read as a gift from NY Agriculture in the Classroom, so that they can enjoy it on their own in the future.

Students who participated: 

Seniors: Taylor Barkee, Alexis Frost, Jason Johnson, Lilah Marchetta-Brewer, Gabby Talijan

Juniors: Reilly Moses

Freshmen: Elijah Diaz