Tree Land School looked like a little gingerbread house set way back on an acre in the woods. It wasn’t far from the city yet it felt like it was way out in the country.
Miss Popcorn Goat kept a watch as the children ran around at recess. But Mr. Roo the Rooster was the real Ruler of the school.
One day as kids were eating lunch in the shady sideyard, they were noticing signs of spring. A couple of robins were hanging around and wild violets were starting to open up its pinkish purple plenty. Tree Land School had its own Violet Garden to mark the beginning of spring. The violets were dug from wild places and now they had their own bed just a few feet from The Chocolate Porch.
Miss Landers, the teacher, pointed out good things students were eating. She was glad to see salads and fruits in the lunches. One kid even had veggies and dip in his lunch. This lady always loved it when students ate healthy food. They talked lots about how you live in your body and food is fuel.
In Science the children had been learning about plants. Each student had gotten an envelope of seeds. The class read A Seed is a Promise by Claire Merrill and it seemed only natural to start thinking of planting.
While this was being planned, some looked at Miss Popcorn. They knew how much she loved tender young plants. She loved to pull them up. So the fenced in area where the chickens used to live looked promising as a garden site.
Ideas are like seeds. They turn into something which is alive. So at recess Miss Landers and some of the students took paper outside and wrote some plans down as they looked around at the available spaces.
One boy said, “I love pizza. I wish we could grow pizza!” The others laughed but the teacher said, “Good idea! We could have a Pizza Garden.”
The next few days were a flurry of activity. Teachers being teachers, the students still had to do all their schoolwork. Oh well.
But they read and wrote about gardens and growing things. You should have seen their drawings! Budding artists concocted gardens galore with kids picking and taking stuff to the picnic table to put on a pizza.
Before long, a huge circle had shown up in the dirt inside the fenced area. Slices were cut to mark off each person’s plot. It was agreed that a slice could be managed by one or more. No one would touch another person’s assigned pizza slice.
Garden tools began to show up in the Pizza Garden as parents and friends pitched in to help. The children got together to make up Rules for Tools. Miss Landers said each rule needed to be worded in a way that avoided the word ‘no’.
- Tools must stay in the fenced in Pizza Garden area.
- Tools need to be kept and used below the waist at all times for safety.
- Tools who have too much energy or aggression need to send their user out to the playground since a garden is for gardening only.
- If your tool breaks a rule, it must be in Tool Time Out for the rest of that day. You are allowed to talk to it from outside the fence so it will do better the next day.
The most fun was deciding what the students wanted on their pizza. Pineapple was out, but the storage tub was full of seeds to choose. One girl picked peppers and another liked lettuce. The students learned about how greens could last a long time since they could be picked but still continue to produce more. That was exciting.
Some children didn’t have enough time for their gardening so they would ask to spend part of recess there. Others belted down their lunch so they could get in a bit of gardening. It also gave students a good reason to finish their classwork early so they could earn more gardening time.
Miss Landers knew how they felt. She knew there was nothing finer than squeezing life out of the garden while getting to play in the dirt! It was fun to spend time in nature and the students were natural gardeners.
Meanwhile when birthdays came kids had pizza delivered. Everyone understood. They even pointed to the garden and shared ideas of what would taste good on that pizza. One could say there was pizza in the air–toppings that is.
At a party one boy gave each parent a sprig of basil and instructed them about how to grow and use it in pizzas at home. A sprig of mint showed up by each plate of goodies. One girl noticed how good it made the table smell. A parent even taught the children about mint tea that day.
Spring passed and school let out for the summer. The Pizza Garden went through various stages as Miss Landers and The Man with the White Hair kept it up. Eventually it suffered from missing the children. Also, Miss Popcorn Goat got out a couple of times and did some gardening of her own. She sure liked those pizza toppings.
But everyone will always remember The Pizza Garden. Families grew more plants from then on since the children wanted to. Who knows, maybe there are Pizza Gardens here and there all over the place.
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.