Tails of a Cajun Garden

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Thanks to the funding of a School Impact Grant entitled "Tails of a Cajun Garden" from the Ascension Fund, Lakeside Primary students have begun planting their spring Louisiana garden. The school garden, known as Antler's Row, is maintained by the 4H Club, but the entire student body is able to participate in the organizing, maintaining, planting, harvesting, and eating of the harvest. In the fall, the 5th and 4th grade 4H'ers worked closely with kindergartners to raise monarch butterflies and plant traditional Louisiana Swamp Milkweed.

This spring, the 4H'ers have helped the Pre-K classes plant two different types of potatoes, and third graders to plant sugarcane and white cotton, two traditional Louisiana cash crops that they learned about during the Social Living lessons in the classroom. All of the Lakeside students discovered that sugarcane grows by rooting itself from the joints of harvested cane, and that cotton is a heavily protected crop that requires registration with the Louisiana Department of Agriculture to protect against the Boll weevil. The student body has also planted Creole tomatoes, sweet corn, sunflowers, cantaloupe, and watermelons.

The most exciting part of the garden this year though is the addition of the rice and crawfish pond. The students have been carefully monitoring the growth of the rice seeds which is needed as a food source for the crawfish when they are finally introduced. The 4H’ers have been learning about the dietary needs of the crawfish which include both live and decaying plant matter as well as decaying animal parts in order for the crawfish to grow up healthy and full size. The crawfish will not be ready to eat this spring, but the hope is that club members will be able to enjoy a traditional Louisiana crawfish boil with crawfish harvested from their own pond, and corn and potatoes from the garden in the 2019-20 school year. Thank you to the Ascension Fund for sponsoring such a great learning opportunity at Lakeside.

Contributed by Lakeside Primary