Seeds of responsibility

DHS teacher Daniel Luquet
DHS teacher Daniel Luquet, far right, plants seeds with his horticulture students.

DHS garden teaches special needs students life lessons

From planting the seeds and watching the first leaves emerge from the dirt to harvesting and cooking their produce, a select group of DHS students oversee every step of the farming process at the school’s garden.

Daniel Luquet’s special education horticulture class is learning adult responsibilities and earning personal pride by working in the garden.

Luquet began the horticulture project three years ago in memory of Tina Cody, a special education teacher that died of breast cancer. In the past year, it has evolved into both a flower garden and two raised vegetable gardens with a greenhouse.

“My special education students tend to and maintain both gardens,” Luquet said. “We grow lettuce, cabbage, potatoes, watermelon, peppers, tomatoes and cooking herbs.”

My horticulture class correlates with our Wildcat kitchen, so in essence the kids grow the food, cook the food, then sell the food to teachers for lunch on Friday,” Luquet said. “It teaches them to be self-reliant.”

His special needs students represent a wide range of conditions, from common learning disabilities to autism.

Luquet said his course helps to prepare the students for work in landscaping, agriculture and plant nursery work after graduation.

The project got started thanks to a one-year grant from Bayouland RC&D and the LSU AgCenter.

Jonas Augustine, with Bayouland, said that Luquet’s program stood out from any other local school.

“He stood out as an above-and-beyond teacher that really cared about getting his students involved in gardening,” Augustine, a DHS graduate, said. “Destrehan High is the only school that works primarily with special needs – the garden gives them a sense of responsibility and helps them to work on growth in their core curriculum classes as well.”

Luquet said he hopes the class can sell their produce at the farmers’ market in the future to help raise funds to put back into the program and teach the students about good business practices. He also hopes to go on tours of local farmland.

Luquet said that the garden is something that students can “call their own” and feel confident about.

Cory Martin, a 10th grade student in the class, said that watching his plants grow has given him a sense of satisfaction and that he will continue to garden even after he completes the class.

“I like planting and working on the garden with friends,” Martin said.

Besides learning basic farming skills, the students learn about nutrition, business, goal setting, team work and individual responsibility.

“There is so much you can do with gardening and teaching,” said Kali Zammit, with the LSU AgCenter. “They really get a sense of belonging by developing their own garden – it’s something just for them.

“They learn about science in how a garden grows, math with money management when they sell the produce, English by describing how they observe the garden growing, and it also goes into their nutrition base.”

DHS senior David Rattray said he didn’t realize how much went into gardening before he got involved with the horticulture class.

“There’s actually a lot more to it than just planting,” Rattray said. “I think all of it’s really interesting.”

Rattray is a founding member of the group and looks forward to seeing the flower gardens completed in the coming year.

The class meets for a little more than an hour at the end of each school day.

Rattray said that he and his classmates really enjoy working on the garden and work on it “as much as we can.”

Tim Perilloux, a farmer in Montz, donates lettuce, green onions, cabbage and other vegetables to the project. Perilloux said that he believes working on the crops will teach the students valuable life skills that not many Americans can say they are familiar with.

The program is currently raising money by selling bricks in their new flower garden. Anyone in the public can buy a brick to be engraved and placed in the DHS garden; the bricks will be lined to create a ribbon shape.

Bricks are $40 each and each brick has 3 lines on it, and each line is allowed 16 characters. Visit DHS or email Daniel Luquet at to place an order.


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