Students in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade at Bains Lower Elementary School have been gardening and learning about nutrition this year during their Play 30 physical activity time.

Lanya Mayer, Play 30 coach, and Layne Langley, of the LSU AgCenter, work with the children to prepare the 10 school garden beds for planting, according to a news release. Langley delivers nutrition programs as well as guides the children with planting. She visits the school three times each month and works with one grade each day.

In September, the children were introduced to the "Rules & Tools" of the garden. The children took an oath to be a member of The Green Thumb Club.

Also in the September classes, the youth turned up the ground and weeded in preparation for planting. 

In the October nutrition and gardening programs, the children planted snow peas, lettuce, cauliflower, carrots, radish, kale, Swiss chard cabbage and broccoli. Most were from seed, but some were transplants. The children used garden tools and watered after planting.

In November, the children learned about MyPlate and the five food groups. They used food magnets to match correct food groups. Spinach seeds were also planted in November.

Because of wet and cold temperatures in December, the nutrition and garden programs were held inside. Langley taught the children about hand washing and food safety. The "Fight Bac(teria)" skit created discussion as to when to wash hands and how to keep foods safe. The children even saw “pretend” germs on their hands using a black light.

A highlight of the December programs was sampling the radish they grew in the garden. Many of the children liked the spicy taste of the vegetable.

As the cold and rain continued in January, the classes stayed inside and learned about fruits and vegetables, including the benefits of consuming fruits and vegetables. In a fruit-and-vegetable relay, teams were given different colored crayons and asked to race one at a time to a clipboard that held a paper where the children would draw either a fruit or vegetable that corresponded to the color of their crayon. 

A fence has been installed to keep deer from eating the plants and vegetables, which happened in the past. However, the latest garden problem — snow — was unexpected, Langely said. "We are all hoping that the cauliflower and broccoli 'make' so that tastings can take place," she said.

For information about the nutrition programs at Bains Lower Elementary or to volunteer to help at the garden, contact Layne Langley, area nutrition agent with the LSU AgCenter at (225) 635-3614 or at lalangley@agcenter.lsu.edu