They posted about compost.
Students at Learning Gate Community School in Lutz held a competition to see who could collect the most discarded Halloween pumpkins, and then they composted them with soil.
Led by Environmental Science Teacher Steve Warrener, the project set up five drop-off locations around Lutz where locals could donate pumpkins.
Warrener then held a Tik Tok competition, posting videos each day. He competed against “Farm Boy James” — a popular composting personality over in St. Johns County.
“He and I posted several videos calling each other out, but the kids really got into seeing what Farm Boy James would say next and how our totals were stacking up,” Warrener said.
The competition ended in a tie: Farm Boy collected 2 tons of pumpkins, as did Warrener and his students.
“The main premise for us was to inspire and educate people to the benefits of dealing with the 100 billion pounds of food wasted annually,” Warrener said. “And why not start with a food that is about 99% wasted? — pumpkins!
“If we do it again next year, I want the county involved. We could do 20 tons by having locations to drop off at every library. That could be really fun.”
Warrener set up five drop-off locations, starting with one at Learning Gate’s campuses: the main one on Hanna Road and its sister site on Lutz Lake Fern Road; other locations included Sunlake Academy of Math and Science, Al’s Lawn Care and Happy Farm.
Warrener and the students picked up pumpkins from these locations between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15. One pickup involved a bulk donation from Watermelon Swim School that had unsold inventory from its annual pumpkin patch.
About half of the pumpkins were composted at Learning Gate’s Hanna Campus, while the other half were composted at Happy Farm.
To compost the pumpkins, students smashed them with shovels and mixed it with soil and mulch from the school’s last tree-trimming job.
“Then we let our class chickens dig through it and spread it around — the chickens are mixing it for us — and then we can pile it back up and let it turn into better soil for our little farm,” Warrener said.
“It ended up being a much bigger project than I had planned thanks to the community involvement and the help from (Learning Gate’s) Michele Northup and The Laker/Lutz News getting the word out.”
In the end, the project taught the students a lot about the importance of composting and recycling.
When students posed questions to one another, each had a unique take on the experience.
Michael Bishop asked, “Why is composting beneficial?” and Colton Ownby replied, “Instead of throwing it away, we put it into the soil.”
Seannah McCarty said, “I learned that you can make very good soil from composting.”
Amy Cook added, “We are going to help the soil (and) to build a garden with it.”
Students agreed, when asked about their favorite part of the project.
“Smashing the pumpkins!” Max Perez said, excitedly.
Ella Couture agreed: “I loved smashing the pumpkins.”
Published November 23, 2022