"Teaching has always been one of my favorite things to do, even though I'm not a teacher; I'm an engineer by trade," he said. "Trying to help someone else learn from your mistakes, that's a good thing. That's a reward in itself. You're getting back more than you give."
Sandy Amone, a teacher for the Shaker summer program, said the students had acquired a raised gardening bed this year and weeded out the area to put plants in. The students have been able to apply what they have learned in their math and reading classes to their gardening. Amone said the students have also learned about healthy eating with fresh produce.
"They're learning about height," she said. "We're measuring and graphing our three main crops and how much they grow each week. We're learning measurement, we worked on perimeter in inches, we're working on gathering facts and reading about different crops and we're preparing recipes for snacks."
There are also history lessons tied into the summer program with visits to places such as the Three Sisters Iroquois Indian Diorama at the New York State Museum and a visit to the farmer's market at the Empire State Plaza.
Amone said Beltrone had invited the gardeners from Shaker to come and visit with some of the seniors. The students came armed with a list of questions for the "master gardeners."
"It was a great experience," she said of the event.
Gwen Graham, a resident of Beltrone who has been managing the gardening club for the past eight or nine years, said she and other seniors enjoy gardening because they love eating the fresh vegetables and that it is another form of exercise instead of just walking. She said she enjoyed teaching the children about the hobby and was pleased that many of them formulated their questions before coming to Beltrone.
"It did not overwhelm us with us giving technical information," she said. "I think they made out OK. I think they enjoyed their visit and some of them were anxious to ask questions and to relate what they had in their family gardens. They were sharing with their classmates and didn't realize it. I thoroughly enjoyed it."