La Crosse students exercise green thumbs to raise green for new playgrounds swings

Northside Elementary/Coulee Montessori students blossom during botany unit
Northside Coulee Logo

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Two classes at Northside Elementary/Coulee Montessori School in La Crosse are gearing up to turn the fruits of their green thumbs into green money for new playground swings at their school.

In addition to gardening skills, students in Mariah Bigelow’s Coulee Montessori class and Amoreena Rathke’s Northside class will exercise business savvy to sell plants from 3 to 6 p.m. May 13 and 9 a.m. to noon May 14 at the school at 1611 Kane St.

Students have been so successful planting, propagating and caring for the plants that they have exceeded their original goal of having up to 400 house plants ready to sell at the school’s first community plant sale.

The teachers’ classrooms are housing more than 700 house plants, vegetable plants and flowers for the sale. Students also have created rock art, macrame plant holders and fertilizer to sell, with proceeds going toward new swings.

The skills the students needed for the project blossomed during a botany unit that gave them scientific insight into how particular plants have different light, water and space needs.

The students also are picking up life-long skills of self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship as they have learned about supply and demand, operating expenses and profit. During the sale, students also will restock inventory and sharpen their customer service and communication skills as they interact with shoppers.

“To us, this project is about community,” Bigelow said. “We hope students gain an appreciation and understanding for the hard work that goes into starting and running a business.”

Other goals for the classes include gaining pride in the responsibility and effort it took to nurture the plants and working together to reach a goal, she said.

“There is also an equity component — especially since we have a food desert around the school with few places within walking distance to purchase food,” Bigelow said, adding, “The skills and knowledge students learned when growing vegetables from seed will be useful for their entire lives.”

The Coulee Montessori and Northside students will making final preparations for the sale Friday, as they care for, label and price plants; finalize marketing materials, and make clay pots.

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