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Manhattan Students Watch Hands-On Lesson Grow

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Some East Harlem elementary school students are learning to read, write, and plant the seeds for a better future in their own schoolyard. NY1's Roger Clark filed the following report.

A group of third grade students at PS 102 in East Harlem were hard at work Thursday putting plants in used plastic soda bottles.

"You've got to get your hands dirty but at the end of the day you have fun," said one student.

The kids were working in their new garden, where they are growing a variety of plants and vegetables. Teachers decided about a year ago to create the green space behind the school and with the help of groups like Grow NYC and City Year, the garden became a reality. And pretty much everything in the garden from the planters to the benches are made from recycled materials.

"For the last several years we have been working on recycling and working on nutrition so the natural thing to do was to start where we involve recycling and nutrition coming together," said PS 102 Principal Sandra Gittens.

"What's happening in the classroom can be brought to the garden, and create much more meaningful experiences by having them touch and feel and plan and grow and take care of things that are in the neighborhood, and that's powerful," said PS 102 Teacher Vanessa Hefa.

The kids say the process of creating the garden has been enjoyable, plus they learned a lot too.

"It's been very fun and I got to learn a lot of new things and I got to share an experience with my friends," said one student.

"I'm proud to know that I am making the community a little more beautiful with the flowers and the vegetables we planted," said another student.

The school's principal says the garden is good training for a special field trip that graduating students embark on.

"Our fifth grade actually go to Vermont for five days, so our third graders are starting to plant and our kindergarten children are starting to plant. So by the time they get to Vermont in the fifth grade and go to the farm it will be something that's almost second nature to them but they don't often get this experience," Gittens said.

PS 102 will be having an end of the year barbecue and the principal says one of the items on the menu will be a salad, with lettuce grown right in the garden.

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