Growing plants, harvesting honey, and growing a passion for cultivation and conservation—the GROWW Program at Ennis Schools does just that, and more.
GROWW stands for "Gardens, Resources, Outdoors, Watersheds, and Wildlife," teaching those of all ages about our natural resources in Montana, the history of crop cultivation in the area, as well as food production.
Jamie Diehl is the Family and Consumer Science teacher in Ennis and the school supervisor for the GROWW program. Beginning back in 2011, Diehl was there.
“Some of the kids didn’t really have access to agriculture or didn’t know how the land and the water worked in this area. So we wanted them to become stewards of this area and the community and learn how lucky we are here,” Diehl said.
Students begin their GROWW journey learning about the five senses, and applying those senses in the garden. Listening for the buzz of pollinator bees, feeling for crops ready to be harvested, seeing the different colors of the garden, and much more.
From there, students delve into composting techniques and growing methods, such as the Three Sisters method, where you plant corn, beans, and squash near and around each other. The squash, with its prickly vine, acting as a defender for the other two crops.
Crops are not the only thing that is thriving in the garden; two beehives are producing sweet honey for students to enjoy. Although students may not be able to dive in to collect the hives, local bee professionals, Bob Beekman and John White, handle the colony and allow the student to share in the reward.
The weekend of September 19, two gallons of honey were collected and jarred for Ennis Schools.
“Really the guiding principle of the GROWW program is for them to become stewards and for them to appreciate and be able to interact with the outdoors because we are so lucky to be here in the Madison Valley,” Diehl said.
The future of the program includes expansion into the greenhouse, allowing for year-round cultivation, as well as the high schoolers to take part in creating cooking recipes. Truly a farm-to-table experience for the Mustangs.