Nourse Farms believes that being a part of the community is essential. Each year, we donate to community nonprofit organizations that align with our mission and values. One such organization is the Horticulture and Aquaculture Program at Garnet Valley Middle School, located in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
Michael (Mike) Krautzel, a 22-year education veteran who started his career teaching health and physical education, is the dynamo behind this program. About six years ago, Mr. Krautzel asked if he could help the school spruce up a courtyard. A gardening enthusiast, he saw great potential in the courtyard and wanted to bring it to life for the students, faculty, and staff.
Soon enough, Mr. Krautzel was not alone in his efforts. During study hall and lunch, students would get outside, get their hands in the soil, and learn about gardening while they worked on the space.
In fact, there was so much interest from the students—more than half of the students in the building were helping—that the school decided to put a class on the schedule addressing the topic. Taking into consideration that Mr. Krautzel is not only a gardening guru but also a fish aficionado who enjoys tending to the school’s tanks, the Horticulture and Aquaculture Program for grades 6–8 at Garnet Valley Middle School was born.
Nourse Farms whole-heartedly supports the idea of teaching children horticultural practices and the benefits of growing their own food, which is why we have been happily contributing raspberry plants to the middle school’s program for a few years. We applaud Mr. Krautzel for his dedication and vision for the program and consider ourselves lucky to be a part of his efforts.
Mr. Krautzel’s enthusiasm for the program—and his students—is clear and nothing short of inspiring. Living just a couple of streets away from Garnet Valley Middle School, Mr. Krautzel has seven children in the school system, coaches many school and town athletic teams, and even joins his students for lunch daily. He has a real connection with his hometown and the people in it, which is why he’s so passionate about teaching skills that go far beyond growing plants.
“Yes, they’re learning about planning, planting, and weeding,” Mr. Krautzel said. “But when we receive recognition for the work we’re doing in this program, it’s the students who accept the awards and give the thank you speeches, not me. They’re learning how to look people in the eye, shake hands, talk publicly, say please and thank you. They’re learning life skills.”
His program is so successful that he’s bringing it to the high school for the 2021–22 school year. Thirty-five students are already signed up to participate and they’ve chosen their project: a berry garden. Nourse Farms is proud to be providing them with raspberry plants to get them started.
And Mr. Krautzel’s ambitions don’t stop there. He also hopes to get the program into grades 3-5 in the future.
“This is so much fun,” said Mr. Krautzel. “Some people dread going to work—I run out the door!”
We encourage you to check out Garnet Valley Middle School’s Horticulture and Aquaculture Program Facebook page to find out more about what Mr. Krautzel and his students are up to.
You can also read this great article published by The Delaware County Daily Times.