It’s always an exciting time when a project is gaining traction and generating buzz.
That is the case for the Mineral Point School Garden.
The garden, which is located on the south side of the elementary, keeps contributing more valuable experience and knowledge for students with each passing year.
The latest bounty comes in the form of sweet potatoes that will be used in school lunches.
Parent volunteer Jenny Bonde is a big reason the garden has been so successful.
Bonde, along with Rink DaVee, own Shooting Star Farm located about ten miles east of Mineral Point. The pair is passionate about organic vegetable farming and are well known for their products at various local farmers’ markets.
When the school garden was created three years ago, someone was needed to coordinate the planting process–what to plant, when to plant it, and other key factors.
Bonde volunteered to fill this role. Since that time, she has become the person that visits classrooms at the elementary to help the students plant seeds and educate them about taking care of a garden.
Because new foods can be intimidating, students are treated to taste testings to sample the many varieties of items the garden has to offer. This introduction helps so when they see items come across their lunch tray, they already are familiar with them.
The majority of produce gets used by the summer school classes as snacks, but depending on the time of the harvests, it can also be used during school lunches.
In addition, during the summer, when there is more than what can be used, the public is invited to stop by and pick some themselves.
“It would be nice to have more people involved,” said Bonde. “There are many volunteer opportunities available.” Everything from harvest, weeding, clean up, digging up beds in the spring and fall are tasks that need accomplishing.
“It’s important the produce be picked when it is ready so it doesn’t go to waste,” said Bonde. “Without enough volunteers, we don’t always catch things that are ready to be used.”
The whole farm to table movement excites new Taher Head Chef, Ginnie Richardson, who is hoping to get middle and high school students also incorporated by spring.
“It is wonderful to have resources in a community that are already involved,” said Richardson. “Our goal will be to get it well oiled so we can keep growing it.”
School nurse Julie Pompos has been one of the cornerstones of the garden project since its inception. If interested in volunteering, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or stay tuned for an update volunteer solicitation come spring.