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Giving Through Gardening

Fourth year teacher, Lindsay Rexer (TFA Miami-Dade '14), has created a garden at her placement school, Morningside K-8 Academy, bringing health and new knowledge to her school and community. Read our interview with Lindsay to learn more!

Lindsay Rexer With Students At Garden In Morningside K-8 Academy

December 15, 2017

Meet Lindsay!

Lindsay Rexer was a 2014 Teach For America Miami-Dade corps member. As a TFA Miami-Dade alum, she is now in her fourth year of teaching 6th-8th grade Science at Morningside K-8 Academy, her original placement school!

What is the community garden you’ve created at Morningside K-8 Academy, and what inspired you to create it?

"I grew up on an organic farm on Long Island in New York. My family has always been conscious of what is in the food we eat and where it is coming from.  I also worked with an incredible mentor teacher my first year who was equally passionate about creating access to fresh food for the students.

What inspired me to grow the garden program at my school was the lack of healthy food options offered at lunch and to provide an outdoor physical outlet. My middle school students do not have physical education once they reach 6th grade. The garden has helped to create a place that encourages students to be active outside! Additionally, many of my students live in food deserts, areas where they lack access to super markets. Having a school garden helps create access to fresh food and teaches students and their families how to build this in their very own homes."

Students Tending Garden At Morningside K-8 Academy

What impact has the garden had on your school, families and community?

"The garden has many purposes. One of its many hats is to provide fresh vegetables to our students, families, and staff. Students who are a part of Gardening Club can harvest the veggies they would like to take home. It is also a recourse for students to learn about nutrition, health, and gain real insight as to what is in their food. 

The garden doubles as a live classroom! Students get to experience producers, consumers, decomposers, insects, and pollinators up close. They see and touch what they have been learning about for years in the classroom. Gardening Club has taught students how to install, maintain, and harvest all different veggies from mint and collard greens to habanero peppers and zucchini. Students take home seedlings they started from seed and begin their very own gardens."

Students Putting Plant Into Garden At Morningside K-8 Academy

What's your favorite part about the garden so far?

"My favorite part of the garden is how excited students are to try the veggies. In between classes students will come up and ask if they can pick some green beans or a cucumber for a snack. It’s also so great to have students starting their own gardens at home. They come in with pictures of their progress and even students who are now in high school still come by on Wednesdays to help with the garden.

One of my master gardeners was always so excited to try new things in the garden she could barely wait to wash it off. One day she was chewing on something and spit it out complaining that she hated whatever we were growing over there, turns out she was chewing on a weed."

Thank you Lindsay! What an incredibly creative way to give back to Miami students and families, while also growing their classroom experience. Thank you for sharing your gifts!