The garden at Belle Chasse Academy has an expanded role in the school’s curriculum this year, with middle-school “guerrilla gardeners” planting, maintaining and harvesting the garden, in addition to learning about nutrition and healthful choices.

“It’s very important to eat right” eighth-grader Fre’Drayna Hemphill said, “and by planting a garden, you can get good food for a lot less money.”

Belle Chasse Academy is at the Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base in Plaquemines Parish and serves the children of military families, as well as children in the broader community. The expanded garden is called a Victory Garden, in tribute to the many family gardens planted during World War II to reduce pressure on the public food supply and boost civic morale.

The “guerrilla gardeners” also use the garden to teach the younger students at this K-8 charter school about plants, soil and good nutrition.

“It’s fun teaching the younger kids,” seventh-grader Marquise Boyd said. “Sometimes they don’t have any idea how food is grown, and then they taste vegetables they’ve never eaten before. It’s pretty cool.”

In addition to gardening, BCA students also are involved in collecting recycling, composting and other efforts to reduce the school’s carbon footprint and landfill waste. They hope their Victory Garden will produce a significant amount of produce that will be eaten by the students in their school cafeteria.

The school garden coordinator is Sam Downing.