By Karen Campbell
Children across the county will soon have visible evidence of “how a garden grows” as the Weakley County Women’s Farm Bureau completed installing hanging gardens in six daycares and one school last week.
Terri Brundige, the group’s chair, reports the project is the first of its kind and the largest in scale that the women have undertaken, encompassing learning sites in Martin, Dresden, Sharon and Gleason and involving a variety of volunteers from UT Martin’s Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity to Greenfield’s FFA program.
“We are a county organization and like to do activities across the county,” she said. “We’re involving a lot of people in this project. It’s wonderful to have students benefiting in so many of the incorporated areas.”
Deemed WWW.EatIt for “Water it! Watch it! Wash it! Eat it!” the program uses hanging gardens made with a 10-feet length of 6-inch diameter, thin-walled PVC pipe that is filled with potting soil and divided into five growing areas. The plan is to conduct four plantings. The first planting took place last week for the spring cool season. The following plantings will coincide with a later, warm spring season and then one for hot weather and another for fall. Vegetables, herbs and fruit are included in each garden.
The locations were identified after facilities responded to a letter offering the hanging gardens. Those involved are Tennessee Cares Early Head Start, Professional Childcare Center, and First Baptist Church’s Christian Wee Learn, all in Martin; Main Street Munchkins and Gingerbread Junction in Dresden; Pierce’s Pooh Bears in Gleason; and Sharon School.
The materials and plantings were made possible due to a mini-garden grant from the Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom program. Biggs Nursery in Greenfield donated the Everbearing Strawberry, Buttercrunch Lettuce, dill, Brussel sprouts, and green onions for the early spring gardens.
“Schools are out for summer when lots of growing takes place. And we wanted kids to see stuff growing and realize it’s what they eat, then have an opportunity to harvest and taste it,” said Brundige of the goal of WWW.EatIt and the emphasis on the whole garden-to-table process.
Following the installation of the garden at Sharon School by Brundige, Roxana Smyth of Weakley County Farm Bureau, Maggie Fowler of Greenfield FFA, and Jack Dunning of Martin’s Central Christian Academy, second-graders used their measurement skills and graphed and charted where the plants started, reported teacher Danielle VanCleave.
“We can’t wait to see how they progress throughout the rest of the school year,” she wrote on a Facebook post chronicling the activities.
“The excitement on their faces and the eagerness to learn is amazing!”
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