Sibley East hopes to increase school’s vegetable garden


HARVESTING VEGETABLES - Sibley East Ag Science students, last week, harvested vegetables at the Sibley East garden, under the supervision of ag teachers Jeff Eppen and Tim Uhlenkamp. The one acre garden is located just north of the Sibley County Fairgrounds, off of CSAH 9. Above, students sampled the cantaloupe to determine if it was ready for picking. Students also picked beans, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cantaloupe. During the summer, 10 students, along with Eppen and Uhlenkamp, worked in the garden. The number of hours worked is unknown. The vegetables are being incorporated into the school lunch menu at the Arlington campus. Plans are for the garden size to increase to approximately three acres next year, according to Eppen.

“It’s been a fantastic opportunity for the school and students to see the fruits of their labor.”

Tim Uhlenkamp, Sibley East agriculture teacher, made that comment Monday night at the Sibley East School Board meeting, regarding the school’s garden.

Uhlenkamp reported that they are very busy in the harvest stage. “As long as there is no frost, we will get tomatoes,” he commented.

Articles about the school garden have been published in the Gaylord Hub, but also in the Mankato Free Press. He was also recently interviewed by the New Ulm Journal.

It has been a whirlwind for Uhlenkamp since this past spring, working with the garden. This past year, one seed of every Minnesota crop was planted. It was a learning experience, he said, finding out what worked and what didn’t.

When the project began, there was uncertainty whether or not there would be student help in the summer. Although a one acre vegetable garden was planted this year, Uhlenkamp said they may propose five or six acres of vegetable crops for next year.

This year the fresh produce is primarily being served at the Arlington campus, as a pilot project. Serving the fresh produce from the garden also ties in with the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) for Meeker, McLeod and Sibley Counties. One of the goals is to promote health lunch and snacks, and school gardens.

One thing that Uhlenkamp plans to work on is collecting more specific data about the project, including keeping track of how much produce has been harvested. Students will be helping with soil samples this spring. Plans are to add manure. Bulk seed needs to be ordered by January 30.

Another possibility is adding a summer agriculture class, including work with the garden.

Since receiving the publicity about the school garden, Uhlenkamp said that he has been receiving telephone calls from other schools districts about the project.

Plans are to present information about the successful garden project at the school board convention and the state ag teacher conference, Uhlenkamp said.


  1. What a wonderful way to incorporate a hands-on learning activity with the establishment of healthy eating habits. Way to go Mr. Uhlenkamp and Mr. Eppen! The innovative teaching methods and activities such as these that are used by our teachers only reinforce our great decision to live in the Sibley East school district.