-- — As springtime nears, so do the educational opportunities for students to plant, cultivate, grow and consume locally grown vegetables through the Batesville High School Farm to School program, said associate principal Andy Allen.
The program was created by the Batesville Community School Corp. Farm to School Committee and is now entering its third year of production.
Project coordinator Kathy Cooley along with a dedicated group of students, parents and volunteers constructed raised beds on BHS grounds, which were filled with locally donated compost, mulch and cardboard.
As they gain experience and enjoy the benefits of locally grown vegetables and native Indiana flowers, the long-term vision of program leaders is branching out to the Batesville Primary School campus.
Believing in the Farm to School program, BPS second-grade teacher Vicki Heil has agreed to bring the Bulldog Garden project into her classroom activities. Entering the second year of production, students there are enjoying the many educational benefits of working within Mother Nature and watching their plants grow.
The learning suitable for elementary students is based on recommendations from Granny’s Garden School in Loveland, Ohio (www. grannygardenschool. com).
Cooley, a Margaret Mary Community Hospital dietitian, is the leader of both BPS and BHS projects. According to Allen, “Cooley is passionate and committed to supporting locally grown produce and to expanding awareness of the benefits provided through locally supported food sources.”
To further grow the program, Cooley and MMCH will be hosting two workshops. The first is a Green Teen Garden Workshop on three Tuesdays, May 1, 8 and 15, from 4-5:30 p.m. at the BHS greenhouse and garden.
The purpose of this workshop is to generate interest and skills in gardening at home and school.
The free program is aimed at students in grades 7-10. The goal is to include several students from each of the area school corporations. Interested teens should contact Ashley Morris at 933-5257 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second annual three-day Teaching in the Garden Workshop will be held the week of June 18. The program is free to local educators and will establish educational practices for classroom use.
The BHS School Garden Club has expanded its efforts to include FFA and FCCLA members and students in horticulture classes instructed by Cassie Mumaw and life skills classes instructed by Alice McCloud. Each group has committed to planting and maintaining a raised bed during the spring semester. Initial planting has occurred in the greenhouse.
As the weather turns toward more favorable growing conditions, the plants will be moved to the outside beds. Horticulture students are responsible for daily watering while representatives from each group record changes observed during the growing process.
The Farm to School Committee also has partnered with Hoosier Hills Homegrown Natural Meats to bring locally grown and processed lean ground beef into the BHS cafeteria. The first Tuesday of each month promises a "farm fresh" lunch with locally grown meats cooked and served in the BHS cafeteria.
Further efforts will focus on increasing the usage of local produce and meats in all BCSC cafeterias, Allen said.