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2015 National Grid Spotlight Award 

Upstate NY Winner:  Alexander Elementary School
Alexander, NY

Students of the Alexander Elementary Nature Club called ANTS (Alexander Nature Training Students) have been working hard each year to plant and harvest a vegetable garden behind the school.

The project started when the club won a grant from Cornell five years ago. Each year since that first year the 15-25 students in the club and the two advisors plan together, write letters asking for donations from local nurseries, collect and return cans and bottles for deposit for funding, plant the garden, maintain the garden over the summer, and harvest the crops in the summer and fall.

It is a big task for the 4th and 5th graders in the club, but worthwhile as the students learn a great deal about gardening and various vegetables from the project each year. Students also participate in preparing and eating different meals and snacks using the vegetables from the garden.

Each year the theme for the garden changes in an effort to expose the students to different types of vegetable as well as to determine what grows best in the garden area. Some of the themes of the garden were salad bowl, fall harvest, and vegetable soup. This year the club is teaming up with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Genesee County to create a Three Sisters garden.


Recently, the club had a very informative and fun presentation on composting with red wiggler worms from Reinstein Woods in Depew, NY. As part of the program the club received a starter kit of worms to begin composting for the garden. It is important for the club to compost to add to the other natural fertilizers such as egg shells and coffee grounds that are used in the garden each year.

The club would like to use money from this grant to purchase an outdoor composter in order to produce more compost which will help to make a more successful garden.


In addition the club would like to purchase a tool shed to put near the garden. Currently the club does not have a place to store tools and the advisors take many of them back and forth from their homes as well as from the district’s bus garage. Having a place to store the tools near the garden would eliminate the need to cart the tools back and forth every time they are needed as well as eliminate some safety concerns of leaving tools out and unattended during the spring and summer months when they are needed and used regularly. With any remaining funds additional tools would be purchased to add to the current supply and allow more students to work in the garden at one time.

The students in the ANTS Club work very hard each year to grow a successful vegetable garden and would benefit greatly from additional funding to add to their experiences. Thank you for your consideration for the National Grid Spotlight School Award.