Cool School: Students hungry for knowledge at San Jose school's garden

A farmer’s market at a South Bay School? Not exactly, but San Jose’s Latimer School does boast 3,300 square feet of garden goodness, and the K-eight-graders are eating it up.

"I can have fun here, and I can do what I like to since I really love to garden," said third-grader Emily Lottermoser.

This "aggie-oasis" is packed with 60 varieties of flowers, herbs, fruits, and veggies from vine-ripe tomatoes and string beans, to pepper and pumpkins.

Volunteer parents Amy Cody and Boris Wolf planted the Latimer Garden seed back in 2020 with inspiration from teacher Helma Lee. It has since exploded from a humble bunch of Lee’s veggie pots into Mother Nature’s classroom.

"I love the kids coming to the garden. They love the garden. They explore and come in with questions. They come with theories about things and here they can test those theories.  It’s so fun to see what interests particular kids," said Cody.

No books or desks here-- just a stress-free environment to let students be kids. 

But make no mistake, these kids are learning. On this day was a little math as they weighed in on the great pumpkin.

"Sixty-one pounds!" yelled the students.

Lee is humbled by how big the garden has grown.  

"I love it!  We love testing from the garden. We love collecting insects. We love observing in the garden, and we try to get out here as much as we can. And the kids love it too? Do you love it, kids?" Lee asked her students.

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"Yes!" the students responded.

Latimer principal Hilary Gill said the garden has been a great addition to the school.  

"We are a project-based learning school here at Latimer. We like to give our kids hands-on opportunities and what better opportunity than coming out to the garden and playing, harvesting and finding out about bugs and creatures that live here."

For some, it really is all about the bugs like a monarch caterpillar.

"You’ve seen those orange butterflies flying around in the garden with big black spots?  Those are the butterflies of these little creatures," said third-grader Penelope Guttadauro.

Even us "big kids" are learning. Have you ever heard of dinosaur kale?

"It looks like the scales on a dinosaur… One time I brought it home, and we had it in a salad, and it tasted really good," said Guttadauro

The Latimer Garden has its own Instagram page, and an army of over 40 parent volunteers dubbed the green team.  It’s here to stay, and the benefits are many including the produce.

"I think there’s just something about growing your own veggies and seeing them grow and harvesting them. There’s nothing like growing your own food," said volunteer Boris Wolf.

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