By: Arwen Louie, 5th Grade Ms. Mertz’s Class
Growing vegetables in my school garden to sell for my 5th grade classroom CITY project was a fun and valuable experience that taught me a lot about how difficult it is to grow food that are actually good enough to sell.
CITY, a hands-on learning project for us students to learn about entrepreneurship and functions of a city, is a very popular program that the 5th grade class do every year here at Sycamore Canyon School. Each one of us had to take on a “job”, either by running a business selling what we’ve made ourselves, or by providing a service (like being a taxi driver) that would be utilized and paid for by the people in the CITY.
When I first thought about what I was going to sell, I had a lot of trouble deciding what I should make ( I already knew I wanted to own a shop, not sell a service). I finally decided on making bags and had already made them when I heard that I could get a plot and plant vegetables in the school garden and sell those for CITY. I said to myself,” Why not?” I could save these already-made products for the next CITY and try this instead. In no time, I was in the garden with 3 other 5th graders who also decided to do this. The person who was helping us, Mrs. Phylicia Bulmer, told us a little bit about the vegetables we were going to plant, how to plant them, and the organic fertilizer we would sprinkle around our plants. There was 2 different types of lettuce starters and 3 different types of radish seeds to choose from. I chose to plant Romaine lettuce, Batavian lettuce, Cherry Belle radishes, and Easter Egg Blend radishes. We even did a soil test and found out that the soil lacked nitrogen.
I checked on my crop once a week and the next time Mrs. Bulmer came, there were 2 of us there. Mrs. Bulmer showed us how to thin out our radishes so they would have more room to grow big, and we sprayed fish emulsion on our plants (fish emulsion has a lot of nitrogen in it). The last time Mrs. Bulmer came, I was the only student there. I sprayed more fish emulsion on my plants and then she presented 4 baskets for me to borrow to display my crop for sale.
I felt good when the week for CITY arrived. My signs were all finished and my prices fixed by Wednesday. I was definitely ready for the actual CITY day on Friday. All I needed was to harvest my vegetables, and that was to be done on Thursday after school to ensure my crop’s freshness. Thursday came and school seemed to take forever! Finally, school ended and I dashed to the Edible Lab. I harvested my lettuce first. Wonderful! Then came the radishes. Oh no! The radishes were too small to sell. The ones I had picked had bulbs less than an inch long and some had no bulbs at all! Luckily, I had the other products I was planning to sell before I decided to sell lettuce and radishes. Quickly, I made signs for those items and got rid of the radish signs.
Friday, City Day. Mrs. Mertz let us set up our store during recess. My neighbor had gone to a different area to set up her game booth, so I took advantage of the empty desk. I set up the 2 baskets I had brought and then propped up the Romaine and Batavian lettuce signs next to the basket with the lettuces. At the other basket, I propped up the sign for the bags, and put in it the bags I had made. I also had milkweed seeds to sell, so I put them in the middle of the 2 baskets with the sign for milkweed seeds behind it. I put out the holiday special bag and the bag that was being raffled out at the front of the booth. CITY opened for business and I began selling my goods. My lettuce sold quickly. The bags went next. Some milkweed seed packs remained. In the end, I had made exactly $3,960!
Even though my radishes didn’t work out, I had a great time and I would definitely do this again.