More than 60 Coca-Cola employees from across the country recently joined members of the Dillard University community to host a rain barrel workshop and break ground on a new school garden for Medard H. Nelson Charter School.

The garden is the first of three that the Dillard University Office of Community Relations is sponsoring in the local community this year. It is designed to operate as an outdoor classroom, teaching students the process and importance of fresh foods and vegetables.

“School gardens offer new learning experiences, teach students about nutrition, and even provide healthy food for local families,” Nick Harris, director of the Office of Community Relations, said.

“This program gives elementary school students the opportunity to work with Dillard undergrads and establish positive mentoring relationships.”

The service day also included a rain barrel workshop that emphasized water sustainability and taught attendees how to make their own rain barrels. Coca-Cola donated 60 of its syrup barrels that volunteers converted to rain barrels using special conversion kits.

Rain barrels collect rainwater that normally flows off property, helping users save money on water bills, conserve water during dry periods and prevent polluted runoff into local watersheds.