Jordyn Taylor-Brown’s little brother is missing a pair of boots. But they’ve been put to good use by his big sister, 9, who turned them into tomato planters.
He might not know they’re gone yet, either. “I just took them,” the Periwinkle students said with a shrug, although she added that it had been with her mother’s permission.
Students in Joanne Hamann’s third- and fourth-grade class brought all manner of containers to school Friday, from coffee mugs to butter tubs to a canister for Tootsie Rolls, to receive the tomato plants.
The plant starts — sweet cherry tomatoes known as Summer Tropics — all were donated by Harts Nursery of Jefferson.
Harts is making starts available to all students in every elementary school in Albany and to Jefferson Elementary School for planting all this month. That’s about 4,500 students, said Scott Kegerreis, national account manager for the business.
Macore, a seed tag company in Lafayette, Ore., donated plastic tabs with growing techniques and other information for each plant.
April is National Gardening Month, and Harts Nursery is always interested in teaching children about gardening, Kegerreis said.
“In this industry, we read lots of statistics about people moving to urban areas, where there’s not as much exposure to gardening and growing food,” Kegerreis said. “We really want this to be our part in educating and presenting to youth the exposure. Maybe not every kid is going to grab that passion for gardening or growing their own food, but at least they’ve had that exposure to make that choice for themselves.”
The creative planter idea came from a magazine article Kegerreis saw while traveling. He thought about doing such a project with his own two children, students at Liberty Elementary School.
Then he wondered if perhaps their classes might like to get involved. That led to offering plants to every elementary school in Albany and Jefferson.
Creative planters abound. “Old shoes, old hats, we’ve actually seen some kids bring dog dishes,” Kegerreis said.
At Periwinkle, Harts field representative Bailey Ponce — herself a former Periwinkle student — told the students about photosynthesis and talked about famous gardens at Disney World and the White House.
Some students wrinkled their noses at the idea of eating a tomato. But hands flew in the air when Ponce asked who liked pizza. Or cheeseburgers. Or spaghetti.
“You’re consuming more tomatoes than you think, which is good,” Ponce said. “They’re healthy.”