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Taken from: Ventura County Star

Reaping the benefits of their crop, Oxnard’s Harrington School students harvested lettuce to take home and enjoy for healthy eating last week.

The students have been working to tend their garden as part of a program started last year to help teach them about where their food comes from and develop healthy eating habits.

In four small soil beds in the garden, eight first- to fourth-grade classes are growing vegetables and learning at the same time.

The program is helping empower the students with the knowledge and appreciation by seeing their food go from the seedling table, according Anna Cash, fourth-grade teacher and program coordinator.

“They are learning a lot about teamwork, the beginning of plants and how they grow,” Cash said. “We want them to learn a lot about healthy eating habits. The most rewarding part is they get to take home the food are share it with their families.”

The program was funded by a $2,200 grant through the Education Foundation of the Oxnard School District. It helped pay for supplies to upgrade the garden and teaching materials, such as science books, to help reinforce their hands-on learning inside the classroom.

“I feel fortunate the kids get to eat the salad, and they are learning more about the benefits,” said parent Mayra Bernal, 33.

Bernal’s son Jaid Martinez, 9, is in Cash’s class.

Although the school’s garden is more than 13 years old, with the help of several community contributors, including the members of the Camarillo Community Gardens, the garden looks the best it has ever looked, according to Cash.

With additional materials and volunteered hours, the garden was upgraded from a dilapidated, overgrown site into an organized planting ground for the classes to share. New wooden soil beds were installed, woodchips were put down on the ground surrounding the soil beds for foundation and plants were donated by Deardorff Family Gardens, an Oxnard-based organic farm.

Much of the improvements had been made during a garden clean-up day two months ago led by Thomas Dewan, Deardorff Organics product manager.

The first- to fourth-grade classes each spend at least two class sessions tending designated soil beds by weeding, watering and watching their crops grow.

“My favorite part is the harvesting because sometimes we get to take home the lettuce to eat, and it’s healthy,” said fourth-grader Dayra Solis, 9. “It’s really good for you and helps you grow up strong.”

Cash’s class, made up of 34 students, began this season’s harvesting by picking heads of lettuce Thursday. With Dewan’s help, red, green and romaine varieties were cut, washed and packaged for the kids to each take home. Cilantro and radishes were harvested, as well.

They each enjoyed a bowl of salad made from the garden’s lettuce when the job was done.

Spinach, kale and bok choy are among the crops to be harvested before the end of the school year in June.

Read more: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2013/apr/24/oxnard-students-school-garden-a-b...
- vcstar.com 

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