Reaping what they sow

Students at Kings Valley Charter School learn about gardening, recycling

Alexa Eckhold, 9, helps Jenica Baker, 9, replant wild pansies in the garden beds at Kings Valley Charter School.

Photo by Emily Mentzer
Alexa Eckhold, 9, helps Jenica Baker, 9, replant wild pansies in the garden beds at Kings Valley Charter School.

KINGS VALLEY — Half a dozen students eagerly gathered around a bucket of torn Itemizer-Observers that had been soaking in detergent for about two weeks.

This was the start of the “recycling factory,” and Thursday these Kings Valley Charter School kids would learn to make their own paper, reusing old newspaper.

“It is extremely slimy,” said Jenica Baker, 9, as she picked up some of the clumpy mixture.

After blending the soaked bits of paper, it was added to another solution with blue dye. Students took turns stirring it up.

“It’s easy and hard,” said Cedric Petrovich, 8, as he moved what looked like a 2-foot long paint stirrer through the thick concoction. “It changes every millisecond or so.”

Once it was sufficiently mixed, Lua Siegel, the gardening teacher at KVCS, took a screen and showed students how to make paper, which will be the cover of their science journals.

“You will keep all your observations in your journal,” she said, demonstrating how to dip the screen into the blue gunk at an angle to get an even sheet of recycled paper. Then students could add flower petals or leaves to decorate it, which would be encased in the paper once it dried.

Elijah Bush, 8, said these sorts of projects is what makes gardening one of his favorite classes.

“I like doing the activities,” he said, working hard to stir the blue mixture. “I like making the soil; I like digging and putting the plants in. I like going to the greenhouse and looking at all the cool plants.”

While waiting their turn, Cole Thompson and Raiden Case, both 9, began weeding the small garden plot near the playground. The school recently acquired a 10-acre plot adjacent to the elementary school, but work there would wait until another day.

Small wild pansies needed to be replanted away from the strawberry bed and with the other flowers, onions needed to be planted with garlic – winter crops.

Flowers will help feed the pollinators throughout the winter, Siegel said. She said flowers will be planted at the end of each row.

“If you put them in the very middle, they’d be attracted to the very middle and see all the other things along the way and do those first,” suggested Tyler Thompson, 7.

All of her students have been very enthusiastic about gardening, Siegel said.

“Some of the kids say, ‘I just watch TV at home, I want to do this instead,’” she said.

While they’ve already eaten most of the vegetables they grew this fall – and loved them, Siegel noted – there are plenty of projects to keep the kids busy and outdoors all winter.

“The class will build fairy houses, bird houses and bird feeders, and keep the pollinators fed,” she said.


One of the many visitors to the Kings Valley Charter School garden.

How you can help:

Kings Valley Charter School could use volunteers for these projects with the garden program:

• A bid from a fence builder to help set up a garden fence.

• Volunteers to help set up fence and build garden beds with kids.

• Sew small pouches for lavender.

• Help out with class, or help start an after-school gardening program.

• Make a mobile chicken coop.

• Find donations of cover crop seeds or reduced prices for seeds.

• Share plants from your garden — especially if you’re splitting them.

For more information: Lua Siegel,

Commenting has been disabled for this item.