“It’s really taken on a life of its own right now,” said Lori Galella, garden founder and director. “As time goes on, it keeps growing. The teachers are really getting engaged this school year.”
The garden, dedicated in fall 2012, honors Joseph Tagliareni, a Bayonne business owner and mayoral aide who died a year before. Tagliareni had served on the board of directors of All Saints. He was also heavily involved with the school, as well as other civic causes.
On a recent weekday, Galella and daughters Courtney Rei, 10, a fifth grader, and Haley Rei, 7, a first grader, were tending the garden, which runs along the perimeter of the school by its parking lot.
Galella said the goal for the garden was twofold: to beautify the school and to give students the understanding of where their food comes from.
“We thought that with that mindset we would create ownership and caretaking,” Galella said.
“The students don’t normally see something like this, because Bayonne’s an urban environment with small yards.”
The garden is now an important part of the All Saint’s science classes. The students plant and grow a number of items, including tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, beats, string beans, zucchini, and many types of herbs.
The students have their own storage shed, with gardening tools and supplies. They use carved- out plastic soda bottles as planters, attaching them to fencing next to the building.
They have a rainwater run-off barrel that they use to water the plants after attaching a garden hose, said Debra Czerwienski, 5th and 6th grades science teacher.
“We talk about conservation. We talk about recycling,” Czerwienski said. “What a great way to teach them. And the kids love it.”
The garden also works well with the Catholic school’s mission of community service, as many of the items grown are donated to the needy.
The children also do their own cleanup work.
Everything about the garden is kid friendly. It has rose bushes, but they are thorn less, keeping safety a priority in the learning process.
The garden has been a total school effort, according to Galella, with students, teachers, parents, and the administration all lending a hand.
Many donations came from throughout the city, and farther. The Whole Kids Foundation’s $2,000 grant the school applied for was the start of something big for the garden, according to Galella. All Saint’s application was one of 1,300 submitted.
“It was a big win for us,” she said. “That was when we really started to grow.”
Naming the garden in Tagliareni’s honor was not a hard choice, Galella said.
“He was very dedicated to the community and service,” she said. “All who knew him know he was a good supporter.”
To learn more about the All Saints garden, visit the school’s website; www.ascabayonne.org.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.To comment on this story online visit www.hudsonreporter.com.