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William Kelley trio tend squash garden at school

William Kelley sixth-graders Grey Sutherland, Michael Floen and Makai Whitehead hold up their various squashes grown in their garden near the edge of the football field. The three boys worked together to grow the squash patch over the summer. (Teri Cadeau/News-Chronicle)1 / 2
William Kelley sixth-grader Michael Floen picks a pumpkin from his shared garden. (Teri Cadeau/News-Chronicle)2 / 2

William Kelley sixth-grader Grey Sutherland harvests a spaghetti squash from his shared garden. (Teri Cadeau/News-Chronicle)Three sixth-graders at William Kelley Schools are tasting the fruits — or rather, squash — of their labor this fall.

Michael Floen, Makai Whitehead and Grey Sutherland worked with their fifth-grade teacher, Tom Frericks, to plant a squash patch last spring and are now reaping the benefits.

Frericks has been the school garden coordinator for the past eight years. All fifth-graders at William Kelley participate in the growing and harvesting of the produce in the School Garden, Terraced Garden, along with the apple orchard.

"The fifth graders assist all the other elementary grades in the planting of the seeds in the spring. In the fall, the fifth graders sell the produce to the community of Silver Bay," Frericks said. "They also eat some of the fruits and veggies as a healthy snack."

Michael, Makai and Grey got the planting bug by helping in the garden in the early fall last year.

"The three boys thought it pretty cool to harvest the large pumpkins last fall. So we harvested the seeds and used them for the following spring planting," Frericks said.

This spring, the boys asked Frericks if they could could use some of the seeds to start a pumpkin patch.

"I wanted to make a garden at my house so that I could sell things in town and on the bus Makai heard me talking about it," Michael said. "And then Grey heard us talking about it to Mr. Frericks and said he wanted to do that too. So we thought it would be good with the three of us."

Frericks recommended the boys expand their garden to include six types of squash: Jarrahdale and regular pumpkins; zucchini and zucchetta; and spaghetti and delicata squash.

"The squash plant is pretty easy to plant and maintain through the summer. So squash plants were the answer," Frericks said.

Each boy was responsible for one of the three rows in the 20-foot garden just off the side of the football field. The garden was planted in the spring and each boy took turns making sure it was watered over the summer months.

"We made a schedule for whoever was watering each day so that it didn't get missed," Makai said. "I'd usually ride my bike down and spend some time watering and picking weeds," Grey said. "It was better than sitting indoors all summer."

Michael would visit the garden with his mother and friend since his mother volunteered with the school garden.

"I was there every Tuesday, but I didn't have to do much watering," Michael said. "It seemed like it always rained on the days I was there to water it, so it was pretty easy for me."

Now that the boys have reaped their harvest for the year, they're getting ready to sell the squash to the community. So far, they've sold mainly to friends and family members, but have already gained about $70.

The boys plan to use that money to go on a trip, save up for a new iPhone and/or buy more seeds for next year. They're already planning their next garden.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle. 

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