Melon Monday at Maplewood, an interview with Periwinkle Schuster

On Monday, November 14, PTA volunteers served all 496 Maplewood students melon from our school garden, with reinforcements from the grocery store. Afterward I interviewed Periwinkle Schuster, chair of the Gardening and Landscaping Committee, who organized the event.
Jennifer Potter-Miller

How did the melon patch come about?

Last year I volunteered in the garden at Maplewood Elementary School by spending time outside while the kids where at recess. At the end of the year last year I was thinking about what I was going to grow over the summer, and melon tends to do really well. I was going to be unable to come to the school to tend to anything over the summer, so I used permaculture and I hugeled the bed with wood and soil and compost from home. The 4th graders in Mr. Ludlow’s class, which is next to the greenhouse, helped me plant all the seeds, we watered them, and then it was the end of school.

When I came back school was back in session, and our vine had proliferated. It had grown, and grown and grown! It was such a thrill to myself and the kids, who were so excited that our seeds grew. I also had sent the kids home with seeds, but I’m not sure if theirs grew at all. They did feel immense pride and ownership in our melon patch.

And how did you plan today’s lunchtime melon distribution?

Two years ago Dusty Harshman and I did something very similar with kale, where we made kale chips. So I just used what was modeled to me and tried to add to the lunch schedule instead of interrupting it. So thanks to the volunteers that came out to help today (thanks volunteers!) we were able to give every student at the school an opportunity to taste the melon either grown in our garden or supplemented from the grocery store.

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Photos by Torie Camp and Jennifer Potter-Miller