Even though they had just come by for a photograph, students in Kate Maiolatesi's Sustainable Agriculture class couldn't help themselves. They just had to get down and pull some weeds.
Among the sprouts of peas, lettuce, kale and other greens was an overgrowth of unwelcome stuff crowding the raised beds in a new garden outside Holyoke Pediatric Associates in Holyoke.
Prof. Maiolatesi and her students from Holyoke Community College built the garden this semester as a community service project at the request of pediatrician Dr. Paula Condon.
"The doctors feel that encouraging healthy eating is one of the most important things they can do," said Maiolatesi.
Students built a total of 16 raised beds designed in a maze pattern with young children in mind. Compost was donated by a local farmer and the soil from one of the students.
Student Leigh-Ellen Figueroa, from West Springfield, now plans to develop educational programming for children who come to the medical office so they can learn about gardening and sustainable agriculture. Figueroa has already created a similar program -- and garden -- at the West Springfield Boys and Girls Club.
Student Kristen Mamulski said she is exploring a similar garden project for Homework House in Holyoke, where she has worked as a volunteer.
"We're trying to spread the word of gardening everywhere," Maiolatesi said.
Photos: (Left) Dr. Paula Condon, center, pulls some weeds alongside students from Kate Maiolatesi's Sustainable Agriculture class at Holyoke Community College. (Right) Artwork created by children at Holyoke Pediatric Associates in Holyoke promoting the new garden.