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  • Family Specialist plants over 50th garden in NEISD

    Posted by Ashley Speller on 3/6/2020

    Juan Velasquez is the Family Specialist at Stone Oak Elementary School and Canyon Ridge Elementary School.

    For the first week of March, Velasquez invited parents, students and teachers to join him for a campus gardening day.

    “We are going to start our spring planting today. We are going to do some strawberries and tomatoes, we are going to do jalapenos, squash, bell peppers,” he said.

    It’s vital to teach children about vegetables at an early age so they grow up loving them.

    “Vegetables are so nutritious to prevent chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart vascular disease,” he explained.

    Velasquez is also a Certified Master Gardener with Bexar County and has planted about fifty-six gardens in NEISD since 2016.

    “We’ve done studies where we’ve seen kids that have consumed vegetables when they grow them. They have a tendency to want to taste them when they grow them so that’s really what the message is here,” he added.

    One student tasted a lemon balm leaf from the garden and enjoyed it.

    Velasquez also gave out bags of seeds that the kids could take home.

    Nine-year-old Gabriel Gutierrez, a student at Stone Oak and a Boy Scout, was helping out too.

    “We’re planting flower, we’re planting cucumbers, and we’re planting tomatoes,” he said.

    Gabriel said he enjoyed working with other kids in the garden.

    “For one reason, it’s healthy for the earth and two, it gives me time to spend with my favorite friends and my brother and sisters,” he explained.

    Seven-year-old Jenna Gossett also wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.

    “Because it’s going to make it prettier,” she smiled.   

    Mr. Velasquez also developed a ten-week curriculum around the new garden and additionally, there will be a weekly gardening class after school from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. that families to join.

    “One of our first lessons we are going to be doing is planting worms out here with the kids and teaching them about insects-good insects and bad insects,” he said.

    There will also be a farm-to-table experience too.

    “Our goal is that once the vegetables are grown, we are going to do a cooking lesson and teach them to make different recipes,” Velasquez added.  

    He hopes that sharing his passion inspires families to start their own gardens at home and encourage life-long learning along the way.

    “This is something that I have a passion for. it’s not something I was asked to do. I feel it’s important for me to do this; for me to have the knowledge and be able to feed that into the kids and be able to teach the parents on how easy it is.”

    There is also another new community garden currently being added to NEISD at Canyon Ridge Elementary School. 

    Discover the NEISD way, where our educators are accessible and make parents feel welcomed in their child’s learning experience every day.

    Ashley Speller


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