Tribune-Courier News Editor
JONATHAN CREEK – A program to get students at Jonathan Elmentary School eating healthier is growing more than just vegetables. The farm-to-school garden is giving fifth graders a chance to put what they’ve learned in the classroom to work with real-life problems and solutions.
“It’s really about getting the kids eating healthy and showing them how things are done,” said Jonathan Elementary teacher Carol Tynes. “Paul Rudd with the Marshall County Health Department got the grant for us and furnished everything except the hard work and the old tobacco sticks.”
A portion of the $5,000 grant provided for seven raised beds and seeds to grow tomatoes, squash, green beans, okra and peppers. Tynes, along with Debbie Proctor and Chris Buford, helped with setting things up. After that, it was up to Jonathan’s fifth graders.
Students put their math lessons to work, estimating volume and measurements for each bed. They also learned a little about each plant to determine what would grow the best.
Students planted seeds and worked the soil daily from April through the close of the school year. Since classes let out in May, students have spent their summer vacations tending to the plants.
“The whole fifth grade worked on it, which was about 36 students,” Tynes said. “We showed them how to fertilize in a row and how to plant. Each one of them started planting. The outgoing fifth grade planted it and the incoming fifth grade is going to harvest it.”
Tynes said she hopes to be able to set up a farmer’s market for the students to be able to sell their harvest. Funds will go toward their annual class trip. Last week, Wyatt Riley, Caity Ferguson, Brady Buford and Blaire Buford helped stake tomato plants which are already beginning to bear fruit.
Rudd, a registered dietitian with the health department, said the grant which helped provide the funds went out in May.
“We were fortunate enough in the context of that grant that we were able to help Jonathan,” Rudd said. “I think it was a very good concept. I like that it got the kids hands on. Opportunities like this exist at the schools.”