Garden at McKinley Elementary school in Burbank

Transitional Kindergartner Jasmin Varela on left writes her name on a seed pot with some help from PTA member Catlan Brinsley. Kids from William McKinley Elementary school in Burbank work on creating a large teaching garden. This was sponsored by the American Heart Association. (Photo by Gary Ambrose / November 15, 2013)

At McKinley Elementary School on Friday, children poured soil into new garden beds as they prepared to plant their first winter garden of broccoli, onions, sweet and bitter lettuce, cauliflower, herbs, peas and carrots.

The garden beds, soil and tools such as gloves, shovels and rakes were all awarded to McKinley after parent Jamee Tingley wrote a grant to the American Heart Assn. last year.

The organization gave the school the equipment and seeds for the garden with the promise that students will cultivate fruits and vegetables for at least the next five years, said fellow parent Shari Wendt, who helped oversee children pour soil and plant seeds with other PTA members.

“We're going to teach kids to love kale,” she said.

McKinley's PTA is still seeking donations for a chain-link fence to protect the garden's future harvest.

By March, the school plans to plant its summer vegetables, anticipating that the summer garden and its tomatoes will be ripe by the time school resumes in August.

The school's fifth-grade science academy will also use the garden to study photosynthesis, and by January, McKinley will establish a gardening club.

“This is a working, teaching, classroom for us,” Wendt said. “It's not just a fun place to eat greens.”

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Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.

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