The garden has been on campus since the spring of 2012 through a grant from the Healthy South Carolina Initiative. Last month, the school received a grant from the National Gardening Association and Chartwells Dining Services that will allow students to design gardens, learn how to plant and nurture foods and incorporate those foods into school lunch programs. The program will also develop nutrition and sustainability education.
“If you’re putting the right things in your body when you eat, it will help you learn and help you grow,” said Audra Terry, Chartwells director of dining services.
The school held a healthy eating celebration Friday afternoon, featuring guests from Chartwells and Jimmy Tate with the Hub City Farmers Market. Tate talked to students about the differences between fresh, local produce and what is available on grocery store shelves.
“It’s definitely fresher and has more nutritional value,” he said.
He told the auditorium of students how he originally started growing vegetables, saying he started growing things he liked to eat when he was their age.
“I started with a few tomatoes and few peppers,” he said. “It eventually grew into a full-time job, and I’m very thankful for that.”
Cannons students had special samples of kale at lunch on Friday, including sautéed kale leaves, kale chips and kale smoothies. When asked if they liked the kale, the students’ hands shot up in approval of the green.
The school currently has four raised garden beds with strawberries, winter herbs, and as of this week, cabbage. The school is also working on obtaining certification through the National Gardening Association that will allow the herbs grown at the school to be sold throughout the district.
“We can grow enough parsley and herbs for the whole district,” Principal Karen Grimm said.
Grimm was presented with a $500 check by representatives with Chartwells to help the school’s garden grow and become a bigger part of students’ learning.
She said there is a hope to expand the school’s garden, but for now, she wants to see how well students and staff can handle the produce they are currently growing.
“It’s a good learning opportunity for them” she said. “They haven’t been shy about coming out to check the growth of the veggies.”
Vashti Summerfield, the school’s librarian, has been heavily involved with the garden at Cannons. She said her involvement doesn’t stem from any sort of expertise. “My enthusiasm comes from the fact that I think everyone should make healthy choices when they eat,” she said.
Summerfield said healthier lunch options, like hummus and pita chips, have become more popular at the school because students can and will eat healthy when given the opportunity to eat healthy food that tastes good. “There’s enough enthusiasm here that I think the garden will grow,” she said.
From the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.