Students at Bains Lower Elementary in St. Francisville are growing fruits and vegetables again in their school gardens, according to Layne Langley, area nutrition agent for West Feliciana and Livingston Parishes.
“Last school year, the children planted gardens that were wiped out due to the deer and extremely cold temperatures,” Langley said. “This summer, the LSU AgCenter was busy working through a Blue Cross Blue Shield grant to provide new beds at Bains Lower. Trying to outsmart the deer, we moved the gardens to another area of the school.”
Associate Extension Agent André Brock built 10 new beds and arches for Bains students in pre-K through first grade to enjoy.
West Feliciana cattle farmer and bus driver Charles “Cheese” Hamilton donated the soil for the beds, and trustys from the West Feliciana Parish Prison helped fill the beds with soil and sand and worked the mulch.
In September, students became members of the Green Thumb Club after learning the rules and tools of the garden from Langley.
“This is my second year working in the garden with the students and teaching them about nutrition. I thought it would be a great incentive to give students who work with the garden a name, so when they meet with me, I refer to them as the Green Thumb Club,” Langley said. “I think they like hearing that they are part of something and belonging to this club even at a young age.”
With the help of Bains coach Lanya Mayer, the youth meet twice monthly during Play 30 time to prep beds, plant, water and weed. Pre-K students visit the garden once a month to plant and water.
The kindergartners and first-graders planted snow peas, cabbage and broccoli transplants, lettuce, spinach and carrot seeds.
New to the garden are radish, kale and Swiss chard, Langley said.
The old beds have been turned into a flower garden, planted by the kindergartners, and the pre-K students are working on their green thumbs by planting bush beans and strawberries.
“The children are excited to see how their seeds and plants are growing. They’re amazed with the size of the plants, and they’ve been able to taste the fruits of their labor by enjoying fresh lettuce,” Langley said.
During gardening time at school, Langley teaches the youth about nutrition.
“They’re learning about the five food groups through games and activities. The MyPlate matchup and musical food groups have been big hits,” the nutrition agent said.