Morrison Elementary School’s garden growing strong

By Zandra Johnson


Morrison Elementary School Garden was established in 2009 for the students to learn about, see, help grow, and taste fresh produce. It is located near the back corner of the school grounds next to Mill Road. The garden started as a collaboration between the Yaak Valley Forest Council (YVFC) and the Troy After School Program.

Shawna Kelsey of YVFC oversees the garden during the growing season, they also very much appreciate volunteers and donations in many forms.    Kelsey is at the garden every Thursday from 10 a.m. until noon, and parents are encouraged to bring their students down during that time to help out and taste the nutritious, delicious crops that may be ready to eat.

If you have an extra vegetable plant, seeds, tools, or you could spare a some time to help maintain the garden, any little bit can be a big help. To get in touch with Shawna about the school garden, please call YVFC’s office at 295-9736.

During school year, the school uses the garden’s vegetables to help feed students by adding them to the salad bar at the high school. The school chef also uses some garden vegetables in the Morrison Elementary school kitchen.

Kelsey has classrooms come out to visit  and learn about the garden. Students help water, weed, care for the plants, and get to see them in different stages of growth. Rules of the garden are neatly hung on the fence for visitors and students to see.

The garden includes raised beds and compost bins which helps Kelsey and others to put everything they can to use.

This summer the garden is producing some great things like raspberries, blueberries, cabbage, tomatoes, squash, green beans, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, and beautiful flowers.

The goal of this garden is to get fresh food into the hands and bellies of kids, Kelsey said. If you’re riding your bike or walking by the garden this summer and need a snack, she encourages you to stop and have a bite, and to please be mindful of the rules.

There have been multiple studies done on the benefits of school-based community gardens. According to, “the school garden supports student inquiry, connection to the natural world, and engages students in the process of formulating meaningful questions.”

According to research on, studies have shown that academic achievement is improved by the addition of a garden to a school environment. It’s not just academically that students benefit either, also their physical, social, and emotional health are all improved, and children who are familiar with growing their own food tend to eat more fruits and vegetables. They are also more inclined to continue healthy eating habits throughout their adulthood.

One 2nd grade student from Morrison Elementary said, “visiting the school garden made me feel good, happy, and excited because I got to see plants growing strong and they make me healthy.”

Shawna Kelsey holding freshly picked produce from Morrison School’s garden. Photo by Zandra Johnson, The Montanian.