Northeast ELL class hopes to harvest unity with community garden

On a warm, sunny Wednesday, students from Brooke David's English Language Learners (ELL) class at Lincoln Northeast High School put on their gardening gloves, grabbed a shovel, and set out to create what they hope to be a new place of gathering and nutrition for the northeast Lincoln community.

"Some of our students read a story called 'Seedfolks', which inspired them to ask our principal if that was something they could create - a community garden here at Northeast High School. And a year later, here we are constructing," said David. 

The community garden has been a group effort from the start. With the help of Civic Nebraska, the project gained funding through the Nebraska Environmental Trust PIE Grant, while the Kiwanis of Northeast Lincoln volunteered to build and install the garden beds. The Lincoln Community Learning Center, LPS Sustainability department, and new Early College and Career STEM Focus Program at Lincoln Northeast also lent helping hands on installation day, helping students get the plants in the ground.

ELL students mapped out the garden beds in their classes, planning where each flower and vegetable will grow.  During the growing process, they will have the chance to learn more about agriculture, composting, germination, and other scientific processes in the gardens.

So what will be grown in this community garden?

"All the students did research on different vegetables and what vegetables they wanted to have," said David. "Our students are from different countries around the world, and so they chose the vegetables they remember that are in the recipes their families cook. We're going to have a pollinator garden as well, and of course, since we're in Nebraska, sweet corn."

Vinus, a freshman at Lincoln Northeast who moved to Nebraska from Afghanistan, already has a couple ideas of things she'd like to see harvested.

"Green peppers, watermelon.  I really want to see watermelon because they take a while to grow," said Vinus. "Tomatoes, too. My dad used to grow tomatoes." 

Adriana, who is also a freshman at Northeast, moved to Lincoln from El Salvador just two years ago. To her, the garden will be a healthy way to get produce.

"We'll have a lot of fresh food. A lot of times, the food you get from the market is not as fresh or natural," said Adriana.

But whether it's putting the plants in the ground, or harvesting them out, the biggest goal of this community garden is just that: community.

"The students really talked a lot about how their families had gardens in their countries, and now they don't always have opportunities to have gardens," said David.  "So this is really an opportunity for the students to bring in their culture, it's an opportunity for families to get engaged in Northeast, it's an opportunity for northeast Lincoln to learn about our families and our students, and for them to be a bigger part of the community."


Published: May 12, 2022, Updated: June 21, 2022