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Home > Clerc Center > Gallaudet’s First Lady Creates Vegetable Patch with Young Gardeners

Gallaudet’s First Lady Creates Vegetable Patch with Young Gardeners

Image: Vicki and a student planting

Image: Group picture

Vicki Hurwitz, the wife of Gallaudet University's president, invited first and second graders from Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) to undertake a new venture. She missed having a vegetable garden when she moved to Gallaudet from her home in Rochester, New York. Taking a cue from First Lady Michelle Obama, Hurwitz decided to create a vegetable garden at House One, as the Gallaudet president's house is affectionately known, and asked the KDES students to be her partners.

"When I learned what Michelle [Obama] was doing with the children at the White House garden, I thought it was a wonderful idea. When we moved to House One and I saw how large the yard was I thought ‘why not have a vegetable garden and have the kids involved?'" said Hurwitz. "I talked with Trudy [Trudy Haselhuhn is the horticultural specialist at Gallaudet] about making a vegetable garden, and she was enthusiastic about the idea knew the perfect place to make it ready for us."

The idea for the garden quickly took root. The day before the planting, on May 4, the first and second graders invited Hurwitz in their classroom to discuss plans--they engaged in a lively discussion about vegetables, listing what they liked and did not like, and made suggestions for the new garden.

The students, along with their teachers and school principal, Nancy Berrigan, arrived the next day ready to start digging. Trudy Haselhuhn had prepared the planting beds with organic soil. The children planted tomatoes, green and red peppers, white corn, zucchini, cucumber, and even pumpkins! Hurwitz appreciated the help of the young gardeners, "They're brilliant! I loved their enthusiasm in both asking and answering questions. And wow, they were enthusiastic with helping with the planting and wanted to do more."

Hurwitz plans to take pictures of the plants as they grow between now and before the closing of the school and may also invite the students over again before school lets out. I would like to make this an annual project as long as we live here, said Hurwitz. "Who knows, it may produce some other projects or ideas over the years." The Hurwitzes plan to have the KDES students visit in the fall to pick pumpkins they planted as part of a Halloween event.