Sorgho Elementary School students are learning and growing with hands-on experiences in creating a garden on the school grounds.
Cafeteria manager Heather Haynes applied for a Fuel Up to Play 60 grant to create a garden that will be planted and tended by the children. Haynes and her son built the raised garden beds over the summer and are now ready to introduce kids to the joys of digging and planting!
“I want to include vegetables that are regularly served in our cafeteria,” Haynes said. “We are going to start with some fall lettuce and spinach with seeds purchased by our Family Resource Center. In the spring, we will expand the garden to include strawberries and cucumbers, and I hope our preschoolers will be able to plant pumpkins they can take home for Halloween! It’s amazing that we are all able to come together on this project and teach kids the value and rewards of hard work.”
The school recently received a delivery of 5,600 pounds of dirt, which has piqued the children’s interest even more. “When this idea originated in my mind, I envisioned the students watching the progress of the vegetables growing, but once I got the ball in motion, this project has become near to my heart. I want the kids to touch the dirt, plant the seeds, learn the value of maintenance, and enjoy the end result! I believe there is more appreciation for what they are being served in the cafeteria when they’ve invested in the process themselves.”
In addition to nurturing the children as future gardeners and farmers, the Sorgho Café is also starting a “Garden to Classroom” program. Members of the cafeteria staff will visit classrooms to introduce students to new fruits and vegetables. “For example, some of our lunch ladies will go in with a cucumber from our garden,” Haynes explained. “They will share with the kids how the cucumbers grow, how we eat them, and will cut them up for the kids to try. The goal is to introduce kids to new foods that they wouldn’t necessarily try if they were going through the lunch line.”
Members of the Sorgho Elementary School fifth-grade Café Lighthouse Team will oversee the garden, with contributions from students at all grade levels. “This is such an exciting project for Sorgho!” Haynes said. “I cannot wait to hear the kids’ excitement as they look out the window and see their veggies growing in our courtyard!”