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Pine View fourth-graders donate veggie plants to fire station

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Pine View garden 5-25-17Firefighters at Station 14 CROP 5-25-17

HOT DONATION: TOP PHOTO-Pictured from left in the Pine View school garden are fourth-grade students Mikey Cochran, Gigi Mattison, Caroline Steinwachs, Gryffin Tizes and Wesley Wehlage. They will donate veggie plants to Fire Station 14. BOTTOM PHOTO-Firefighters Aaron Obluck, at left, and Sidney Evans are ready to roll at a moment’s notice at Fire Station 14 of the Sarasota County Fire Department.

SARASOTA COUNTY, May 25, 2017 – Seven fourth-grade students from Pine View School will donate plants for a vegetable garden at Sarasota County Fire Station 14, 8825 S. Tamiami Trail. Students will present the plants to firefighters at 4:30 p.m., Friday, May 26. The gift will include red robin and red round tomatoes, red okra, green bell peppers, hot sunset peppers, eggplant, parsley, basil and tomatillo — some of which may make its way into firehouse chili or other firefighter specialties.

At Pine View, volunteers like Valerie Rupp and local chef/restaurateur Paul Mattison of the Pine View Garden Committee help students plant, cultivate and harvest vegetables in the school garden and cook creative dishes with the fruits of their labor. Rupp said students are thrilled to contribute plants for a garden at the fire station. She has met some of Station 14’s firefighters and told them about the donation; she said they are also excited about the students bringing plants to the station.

Rupp said teachers use the garden as an outdoor classroom at Pine View, which serves intellectually gifted students in grades two through 12. Students, staff and parent volunteers enjoy the garden, a relaxing place that connects the campus with the natural world. Classes have salad parties and many harvests are donated to All Faiths Food Bank.

“At Pine View we learn together,” Rupp said, “sometimes by putting our hands in the dirt.”

The school uses locally produced Florikan fertilizer in its garden. The Sarasota company is one of the garden’s many supporters. Florikan is a controlled release fertilizer that helps optimize plant nutrition while reducing environmental impact. It is used on the International Space Station to grow “space veggies” and was inducted into NASA’s Space Technology Hall of Fame in April. 

Other supporters of Pine View’s school garden include the Pine View Association (funding), Sweetgrass Farms (hydroponic towers and plants), Your Farm and Garden (seeds), Fivestarr (picnic tables), Venice Lawn Care (soil and mulch) and Lowe’s (garden supplies).

“This year we grew many different vegetables in the garden,” said Rupp, “including many of the same ones grown on the space station.”

Rupp says they are seeking a business partner to help expand the garden by moving the existing chain-link fence out several feet to expand the garden.

“Expanding the garden footprint is an important step in advancing our Garden to Cafeteria program,” said Rupp. “In addition to allowing for more abundant harvests, it will lead to more student learning and involvement and let us grow additional healthy produce. Please help us!” 

Among other upcoming activities, Rupp said the Pine View Garden Committee and Mattison will host the school’s annual Stone Soup event. Mattison will cook onsite using fresh vegetables grown from the garden: carrots, onions, okra, bell peppers, sunset peppers, plum tomatoes and zucchini. That event is set for 2:30 p.m., Thursday, June 1, on the Pine View campus.


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