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Community Garden Allows Students to Give Back, Learn About Science, Art and Nature

June 29, 2018

Allysa Walker wrote the following story about Waterville Valley Elementary School’s partnership with the Margaret & H.A. Rey Center to create a science-based community garden project.

In the age of project-based and hands-on learning, students at the Waterville Valley Elementary School (WVES) are embracing the care and feeding of their community garden.

In partnership with the Margaret and H.A. Rey Center, (Rey Center) a national non-profit that honors the memory of the creators of Curious George and seeks to promote learning through science, art, and nature programs, faculty, staff, and students at the school are working with the Rey Center’s experts to create a pumpkin patch and a salad garden to harvest at the beginning of next school year.

Judy McChesney, master gardener and K-2 teacher at the mixed grade school has worked with the Rey Center over the past several years to cultivate the project. She and her husband, Bill McChesney, both of Bridgewater, NH, have an extensive home garden in addition to a greenhouse from which they donate compost, plants, seedlings, and other supplies to the school.

McChesney says that she loves seeing the children embrace a “hands-on project” on food, and that the kids love watching their plants grow and enjoy the harvest in the fall.  This year, the older students planted a salad garden, and the younger students prepared and planted a pumpkin patch.

Her colleague, Michael Bownes, who teaches 6-8 science and math will spearhead the project this year.  A gardening enthusiast, Bownes loves experimenting with new ideas and teaching his students about the science—and math— of food.

He coordinated his lessons with the NH State Science Standards to focus on soil science, pH scale, and heredity. For math, he followed the NH State Math Standards, and developed gardening curriculum on area, surface area, volume, and perimeter.

He’d like to see the garden become a service-learning project in future years, where the students can donate fresh produce to local food pantries.

In addition to working with the students on math and science skills, Bownes is also excited to work with the Rey Center.

He said, “I thought that it would be a great opportunity to partner with a community organization where the students would be supported and encouraged throughout the learning process by community members who have interest in our students’ success.”

Leah Elliot, the Rey Center’s Executive Director, and Amanda McClain Roswell, Marketing Specialist couldn’t agree more.

They’ve donated the gardening space in the Mary Bierbrier Gardens, conveniently located next to the school. They’re also excited to share their personal gardening expertise.

Elliot said, “Maintaining a working relationship with WVES is very important to our mission and we are glad to provide an opportunity for the students to explore nature and science through gardening.” She added, “I’m excited about growing this program to include various levels of science curriculum opportunities for students and teachers.”

Roswell added that she is excited about the project because she believes that “every child deserves to know the basics about food—how it’s grown, where it comes from, how to prepare it, and how it affects their bodies,” and that the community garden helps to “foster this education in our school and in our community.”

WVES Principal Gale Adams-Davis concurred, adding that the project “is a great opportunity to build relationships in our community.”

Interested in learning more? Please contact WVES principal, Mrs. Gale Adams-Davis at 603-236-4700 or

Waterville Valley Elementary School partners learns at Waterville Valley's community gardens

About Jan Stearns

I've been living in and loving New Hampshire's White Mountains for most of my life. I moved to Waterville Valley in 1981 and quickly realized why it was dubbed a Yankee Shangri-la. Once you’ve experienced Waterville Valley, you’ll want to call it yours. The great team of Realtors at Waterville Valley Realty can help you find a Waterville Valley home that fits your lifestyle and budget.

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