It might have seemed like an ordinary Friday to you, but for nearly 200 area students, today was a day for planting pumpkins at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch! Papa and his team of volunteer retired teachers and the good folks at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) welcomed children from Washburn Elementary School, Martin Luther Grade School, Dorothy Moses Grade School and Centennial Grade School for a spring field trip and horticulture tour.
The idea began a few years ago with the request of one teacher to bring her class back to Papa’s in the spring (after their fall visit) so the students could see where the pumpkins are grown and learn a bit about a plant’s life cycle. When the teacher requested a similar visit for her current kindergartners, Papa decided to also invite a handful of other classes to test the idea on a larger scale.
Retired teachers who are members of the Bismarck area GROW group led some of the interactive learning stations which included plant root structure and worms and composting. Volunteers also helped each student plant his or her own pumpkin seed and take it back to school. The soil scientists from NRCS brought their amazing blow up “under the earth” exhibit so students could experience a larger-than-life example of what’s going on in the earth under their feet.
As we look to the future, Papa and the family are fully invested in helping our children keep or find a connection to our rural roots in North Dakota. Today’s pilot project allowed us to examine a new opportunity for education and fun at Papa’s Pumpkin Patch.
And Papa couldn’t help himself. Each student received one of his famous pumpkin cookies on their way back to school.