Written by Juanita Fox
Each winter, Garden Spot Village partners with Hinkletown Mennonite School (HMS) to host Enrichment Clusters for their students. For the past 12 years students have learned to knit and crochet, with ladies who love the craft.
For HMS, the partnership allows an out-of-the-classroom learning opportunity, which addresses their goal of educating the whole child. For Garden Spot Village, the partnership offers yet another opportunity to live with purpose as the women share their love for knitting and create friendships with the students.
Marian Hentz teaches two of the girls. She started knitting when she was six so she can relate to their eagerness to learn and frequent mistakes. She pulls from her experience teaching knitting with 4-H and said, “It’s going to teach them patience.”
Bethany Reiff, Enrichment Cluster coordinator and teacher, said, “Our students get so excited to come visit their knitting teachers and learn how to knit. It is really valuable to not only have the ladies at Garden Spot share their knowledge of knitting, but as they teach the students they also get to talking and sharing about what it was like when they were in school and when they were young. These connections between our students and their knitting teachers not only provide a window into history, but also a new friendship.”
This year Hinkletown added a second enrichment cluster at Garden Spot Village’s aeroponics greenhouse and the children are learning innovative ways to grow fruits and vegetables. Gloria Stevens, Aeroponics Greenhouse coordinator, manages the greenhouse and leads weekly learning circles, discussing the differences between aeroponic, hydroponic and aquaponic growing, the impacts of bugs, pollination and global warming on plants.
The students have their own dedicated pod for growing vegetables and plants. Each week they care for the plants and will eventually take home produce to eat. Stevens said, “They are more excited each week as they see how much their plants have grown.”
Justin Weaver, enrichment cluster and teacher said, “Our desire is to help students gain an appreciation for plants, especially when it comes to innovative ways of growing using aeroponics. Students are learning how a plant can grow on a small scale, and hopefully will apply this in a larger way in a world that needs care and healthy food to eat.”
Weaver continued, “We are extremely grateful to Gloria Stevens and Garden Spot Village for partnering with Hinkletown in helping students learn more about aeroponics, the science behind how things grow, and how to care for the earth.”
Gloria Stevens said, “The students are a lively bunch of very inquisitive and polite children, eager to learn. I don’t know who is having more fun—them or me. I love having them learn and interact. I am so pleased that Garden Spot has participated in this program. The children are at the perfect age to make an impression of how important everyone is in protecting our planet.”