By Marcy Stamper

Classroom in Bloom, the garden that provides fresh food for local schools along with hands-on, multidisciplinary education, is celebrating a successful fundraising campaign that will support the garden as it begins its second decade.

The half-acre garden on the Methow Valley School District campus raised more than $22,000 from individual donors last fall, enabling the nonprofit to receive another $20,000 in matching funds. The funds will help support the garden’s four staff members. The donations also demonstrate the support for the garden as an integral part of education, said Anaka Mines, executive director of Classroom in Bloom.

The school district also provides financial support for the garden, giving an additional $10,000 last year, according Mines.

The garden contributes to the school and to children’s education in numerous ways, Mines said. During the fall and spring, students from kindergarten through seventh grade work in the garden every week, learning about soil ecology, plant science, math and nutrition. In addition, the Liberty Bell High School Foods class harvests produce to use in cooking projects, said Mines.

Fresh produce is donated to the school cafeteria—this year the garden produced 2,490 pounds of food, from lettuce to beets to squash—and the garden is part of a campus-wide composting system for organic waste.

During the winter, educators from the garden provide classroom instruction once a month. Lessons are woven throughout many subjects, from social studies and language arts to math, art and science, said Mines.

“In turn, students experience the joys and frustrations of the cycle of caring for the land and producing food—from soil-building to planting to reaping the sweet harvest of their efforts, and finally returning the organic waste back to the soil,” according to program literature.

The garden starts its spring growing season in early April and is always looking for volunteers to help in the garden (on Wednesdays or Thursdays) or with other projects. Anyone interested in volunteering can call 996-2368 or email classroominbloom@gmail.com.