LITTLE SILVER– From little acorns, mighty oaks grow. And from the ‘seed’ of an idea, Sickles Market, along with students from Point Road School, has taken an annual Earth Day event and grown it into a fun and educational gardening experience that provides lifelong lessons for students.
On Friday April 20, more than 400 students at Point Road School will present their grocery bags decorated with Earth Day messages to Bob Sickles, owner of Sickles Market, and in a show of thanks, he will hand deliver a lettuce seedling to each child.
It started four years ago when the school’s Green Team approached Bob Sickles, owner of Sickles Market, asking if the market would take part in the school’s Earth Day celebration. The idea – called the Earth Day Groceries Project, a national program – was for Sickles to provide schoolchildren with plain brown shopping bags, which they would decorate with drawings and environmental messages, such as “Save Our Planet” or “Reuse This Bag.” The market would then use the bags at checkouts on Earth Day, spreading the ‘green’ messages to its customers.
Recognizing the educational benefits of the program, Bob immediately joined in, and for the past four years, customers of Sickles Market have enjoyed the artistic and informative shopping bags each Earth Day, April 22. But after that first year, Bob wanted to contribute more to the Earth Day effort and to help foster in the students a love and respect of the land and environment. And what better way than to give each student his/her own small piece of earth – a seedling in a pot – to nurture and grow.
And so for the past three years, Sickles has presented each student at Point Road School with an individual lettuce seedling in a recyclable coconut-fiber pot. In addition, Sickles has planted more seedlings in the school’s courtyard, which, after 60 days, are harvested for the school’s “Salad Harvest Day” lunch.
“Gardening is a hobby with many rewards,” explained Sickles, who is the son of a farmer. “I don’t expect all of the children to take up gardening, but a few will see the entire loop of the cycle and that will capture their hearts into adulthood.”
In addition to the bags and seedlings, Sickles will celebrate Earth Day with its annual Kids’ Day on Sunday, April 22, from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. The day will feature gardening demonstrations, food tastings, face painting, a magic show and more. The event is free and open to the public.
Susan Murray, a school parent and waste efficiency consultant with Waste Not Solutions, and Pam Albert, the school’s principal, initiated the initial collaborative effort between Sickles and the school. Art teacher Dale Dvorak oversaw the art project and supervised the huge task of ensuring that every child, K-4 grades, decorated a bag.
“What started out as a simple activity for ‘The Green Team,’ the Point Road Environmental Club, has just continued to grow and has spawned many other activities and educational outcomes,” said Albert. “We are committed to teaching our students to be environmentally conscious and encourage as many collaborative community projects as possible. We are very excited about this project and are very appreciative of the on-going support from Sickles Market,” added Albert.
According to the Earthdaybags.org website the Groceries Project is one of the largest and most well established educational projects on the Internet. It is a nonprofit, grassroots effort. The project started in 1994, with 43 schools; today there are over 1,000 participating schools.
“The event will illustrate the tasty rewards of gardening,” said Sickles.