Children at Anamoose-Drake Elementary are enjoying the fruits of their labors this fall.
Head cook Barbie Martin said that the school is serving up some of the vegetables that teachers, children and helpers grew this past summer in a garden they planted on former principal Deb Reinowski's land.
Martin said the school has been participating in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable grant program, which provides funds to provide fresh fruit and vegetable snacks for the kids a couple of times a week. Teachers and staff wondered if there might be a way to provide more vegetables in a less costly way and thought a garden would be a good way to do that. Reinowski agreed to let teachers and staff plant vegetables on a third of an acre at her farm outside of town, and teachers and kids from the school's after school/summer program planted, weeded and harvested the produce this summer.
Shania Martin and McKenna Melaas plant seeds in the Anamoose-Drake Elementary School garden.
"They learned how to grow a garden," said Martin. "They learned that certain things need to be planted in direct sunlight, some things need a cage and some need lots of room to grow."
A variety of produce was planted, ranging from bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, zucchini, eggplant, pumpkins, cauliflower, radishes, carrots, peas and beans to more exotic fare.
"Oh, gosh, we just planted tons and tons and tons," said Martin.
They planted strawberry popcorn, which neither the teachers nor the kids had heard of before.
"They are just so neat," said Miller, who said the school will pop the corn as a treat for the kids. The strawberry-colored corn can also be dried and used as fall decorations.
"We even had our own herbs," said Miller, who said they planted oregano and basil. "A lot of it was very typical."
Kids in the summer program got to take some of the extra produce home to share with their families and they enjoyed sampling some of the raw peas and strawberries as they were helping to harvest the vegetables. Since they planted early, some of the produce was ready earlier in the summer.
Miller said some of the kids in the summer program helped out once or twice and others were there every week.
"Next year we're hoping we'll have more kids help us," she said.
Miller said the garden was a great success and will help provide kids with a healthier diet as well as fun growing things.