Student gardeners create earth boxes

April 22, 2009 (CHICAGO) In Washington Park on the city's South Side, Friends of the Park planted 25 trees near the lagoon. In Olympia Fields, the state's first hybrid school bus took kids to and from the Arcadia School. The new hybrid school bus will get 13 miles to the gallon as opposed to just six. Also, toxins are reduced by 40 percent.

At the Museum of Science and Industry, Earth Day gets down right nitty gritty as school kids dig into the mud and learn how to become mini farmers.

Forty 5th grade students from Hyde Park's Harte Elementary School learned how to turn a porch or a deck or a small backyard into a miniature urban garden by using earth boxes.

"An earth box is a self contained growing system. There's a water reservoir in the bottom, dirt on the top. And it has a cover over the top which maintains heat and helps the plants grow," said Roberta DeYoung, master gardener.

Earth boxes can be purchased at most garden centers. You fill them up, plant your crop, and life is suddenly greener.

"I get educated and I learn more about plants and how they grow in their natural habitat," said Adrianna Burnette, 5th grade gardener.

"I learned we should have Earth Day more and that we should take better care of the environment," said Ashlee Johnson, 5th grade gardener.

Dirt, sun, water and some tender loving care. The reward is in the harvest.

"I planted beets," said Camrin Jones. "I'll watch them grow and if they grow into nice big beets I'll eat them."

"I'm going to do this is my backyard," said Jordan Hall, who plans to grow vegetables in his backyard for his family. "Yes. So they can eat them."

The students will tend to their earth box gardens until the last tomato turns red on the vine.

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