Kids learn to grow, prepare fresh vegetables in Seeds 2 Service

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Times Herald Photo by Joan Koehne

Members of the Gillett School Board interact with students in the garden area developed behind Gillett Elementary School through the Seeds 2 Service program. Through the program, students learn to grow and harvest their own food, then use it to prepare healthy meals.

Members of the Gillett School Board broke from their monthly meeting Thursday night to visit the garden behind the elementary school. Seeds 2 Service created the garden, where students learn about growing and harvesting their own food, plus how to cook the food and plan healthy meals.

The program got its start in 2013, buoyed by $70,000 in grant funding. In the first years of the program, students made raised beds from kits, hauled dirt and mulch, and planted the seeds.

“They worked really hard on it. I think they’re pretty proud of it,” said coordinator Sara Peterson.

About 50 students were enrolled in the program, which met after school during the school year. This prevents some students from going home to an empty house, Peterson said.

During the summer, five or six summer school classes are offered, enrolling about 20 students per class.

“We talk about healthy eating, whole grains, and we try different foods with the kids,” Peterson said.

Families whose children are enrolled in the summer school classes come to tend the garden and harvest the produce. Seeds 2 Service also provided lettuce and kale for the summer school program.

“Our goal is to have more provided to the school lunch program,” Peterson said.

She said sound management of the grant money will help to extend the life of the program another two or three years.

To fund the program into the future, a plant sale is planned. Also, private individuals have offered financial support to maintain the program, Peterson said.