Students at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School have learned a greater appreciation for the food they eat by helping plant a variety of vegetables recently in the Seymour Community Garden.
As a student council project, fourth- and fifth-graders worked with Seymour High School FFA members and several adults, including Molly Marshall with Healthy Jackson County, Barb Cummings from the Seymour Chamber of Commerce environmental committee and master gardener and Purdue Extension education specialist Richard Beckort.
The students planted cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, green beans, okra, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and other leftover plants from the high school’s greenhouse, which is operated by horticulture classes and FFA members.
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Marshall said it was a great event for both students and adults and that the garden teaches about much more than just planting vegetables.
She hopes to see more students and staff participate in annual Food Day activities in the fall at the schools.
During the Food Day event, students are exposed to produce they might not be familiar with, Marshall said.
Last year’s featured vegetables were turnips.
“This year, we will be featuring kale, and we hope to plant the seeds for more participation,” she said.
Some flowers and milkweed also were planted by the students. The milkweed is used to attract butterflies, especially monarchs, which are seeing decreased populations, said Seymour High School agriculture teacher and FFA sponsor Jeanna Eppley. The milkweed was provided by SHS teacher Paula Weaver’s science classes.
Produce harvested from the students’ plantings in the garden will be sold at Seymour Farmers Market this summer and fall and used in the school cafeteria. Additional produce will be made available to teachers, staff and families at Brown.
Students in the high school’s new Supervised Agriculture Experience course will tend to the garden throughout the summer as part of their curriculum and grade.
Eppley said the garden benefits many people. She is glad younger students also are getting involved, she added.
“It was an awesome experience for the Brown student council students,” she said. “After they learned to plant all these materials and finished the hard work, they took a look at everything they had finished and they were proud.”
Cummings also said she enjoyed seeing the students’ enthusiasm for the project.
“It was a successful day and encouraging for me to see the kids out there working hard,” she said.
Eppley hopes that some of the students stay interested in gardening and agriculture as they get older.
Brown students taking part in the project were Kaitlyn Lamaster, Jamie Laupus, Kaylee Roberts, Courtney Arthur, Qwenton Bolden, Emilee East, Jacob Bense, Kiley Ferrell, Heriberto Baltazar, Jesus Sanchez, Luis Hernandez, Kenton Johnson, Bernice Almodova, Tim Burton, Ronan Hancock, Donovyn Thomas, Isabella Malone, Alexander Mullins and Diego Larua.
Brown Principal Tony Hack said he was proud of his students’ involvement in the garden, which is at Brown Elementary School.
“Great work by all,” he said. “I am very proud of the Brown Bears and their efforts. Thanks to Jeanna and the SHS students who were great mentors to our students.”
FFA members helping out for the day were Levi Claycamp, Allison Hayes and Lauren Findley.
“I heard a lot of comments from the students on how great and beautiful it was,” Eppley said of the garden. “Most of them worked very hard all the way through the end. They were a great group of workers.”