Kids learn in award-winning peace garden

May 29, 2009 (CHICAGO) Students from Whittier School do their outdoor science curriculum in the peace garden across the street from the school. The students are taught in the garden all about plants , herbs, fruits and nature.

"I think it's good to have a lot of plants and fruits are going to grow and I guess when they grow, when the fruits grow, I guess we can eat them," said Jose Paniagua, student, Whittier School.

"The garden is just beautiful. I love it," said Andres Villanueva, student, Whittier School.

With the help of the school staff and parents students have learned how to plant and what to plant. For four years in a row, this garden called Xochiquetzal Peace Garden located in the 1900- block of 23rd Street has won first place in the mayor's landscaping awards for schools.

"We need a laboratory where children can connect with all of the riches and turn it into a haven that is peaceful," said Irene Vitullo, Xochiquetzal Peace Garden.

They are especially proud of the four directions garden in honor of native Americans . Another special place is the five senses garden.

"In a garden like this, five senses in the garden where you can smell, you can hear, you can touch," said Natalia Segal, student, Whittier School.

Just across is the herbs garden.

"I like this garden because there's a lot of herbs that help us, like chamomile," said Grecia Zavala, student, Whittier School.

"We have a curriculum that really allows the students to explore nature and to be familiar with different plants and the cycles of growing," said Zoila Garcia, principal, Whittier School.

"We can have birthday parties, going-away parties," said Vitullo.

Students learn about the use of a rain barrel saving water for use in the garden and how to use compost bins for recycling plants for compost . All this is done alongside a magical mural entitled El Mar by Jesus Acuna especially made for the peace garden.

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