What do you get when you combine vegetable plants with hungry deer? Devastation, as some students in West Feliciana Parish learned recently.
In September, after successful harvests from previously planted gardens, prekindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade students at Bains Lower Elementary School in St. Francisville were eager to begin working again with Play 30 coach Lanya Mayer and LSU Agricultural Center Area Nutrition Agent Layne Langley.
However, before doing so, the students became familiar again with the garden tools they’d be using and the rules they’d be expected to follow while working in the garden.
“The students had to take oaths to become members of the Green Thumb Club before they could begin preparing the beds for planting,” Langley said.
So, with assistance from West Feliciana Parish County Agent André Brock, the classes divided into teams and planted yardlong beans, bush beans, squash, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
Each student had a job, from digging holes and placing plants in the ground to watering the plants.
“There was a lot of excitement, both in using the tools and during the planting phase,” Langley added.
Just prior to harvesting their new fall garden, the students came to school one day to find the vegetables had been ravished by area whitetail deer.
“They were all so disappointed. The deer ate most everything that had been planted; however, hopes soon followed that the bush beans and squash would make it, so a water scarecrow was installed to deter the deer, but the plan didn’t work,” Langley said.
Meyer, Langley and Brock began discussing various methods of preventing the deer from demolishing the garden again, including having a tall fence installed. Fearful the deer would return to eat more plants, the brakes were put on planting another veggie garden. Instead, the adults guided the children on how to plant herbs.
“The smiles on their faces were priceless when we met to plant marjoram, oregano, dill, mint, parsley and rosemary. The students were surprised at how good some of the herbs smelled and their nutritional uses and healing purposes,” Langley said. “We hope to start the new year planting yet another garden.”
Langley said to ward the deer off, some of the home remedies discussed included using slices of Irish Spring soap and setting out human hair.