School garden helping students de-stress and grow healthier food options

Garden Club Gateway Charter High School
Posted at 9:49 PM, Nov 05, 2021

FORT MYERS, Fla. — FORT MYERS, Fla. (WFTX) — Learning is done a little differently for some students at Gateway Charter High School, in Fort Myers, Florida.

For the school’s garden club, it’s about digging in and learning to grow something of their own.

“It’s not often that I’m just able to go outside and get dirty and be able to see and build something that I know is going to blossom into something later,” said senior, Ashley Cieza.

The project this year is building lifted garden beds from wood pallets delivered to the school.

Teachers, like Catherine Dejongkelbosis, say all of the vegetables that are grown will be served as healthy food options at their school.

Dejongkelbosis said it's an experience students don't get inside the classroom.

“I give them a goal, 'Okay, you are going to plant these seeds. Here is the instructions, learn, figure it out. If you make mistakes, it’s okay.' It’s almost an experiment on its own,” she said.

An experiment that’s teaching students to not only be self-sufficient but also more creative when it comes to addressing their mental health.

“One of the teachers who are very special in our school passed away and I was really upset about it and I needed something to de-stress because I was having a really bad day and I was crying a lot so Mrs. Dejongkelbosis offered for me to come outside and help her,” said Cieza.

Since 2017, the Garden Club has been helping their vegetables and their students continue to grow.

The club just got started on this year's garden, but already hopes are high.

“There is going to be so many veggies that were are going to be able to produce that we are going to be able to give away to students be ale to give await to staff,” said Dejongkelbosis

Students say they can already feel the impact it’s having on campus.

“Since me and my family do this at home, and I thought it was really nice you know, a way to liven up the backyard of my school,” said Cieza.

This story was originally reported by Colton Chavez on