Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 23, 2017

‘It’s so good’

By Xiomara Levsen | Jun 26, 2014
Jane O’ Leary, Principal at Ainsworth Elementary Schools, pictured on the far left, shows another group of students some cauliflower that is ready to be picked. She asked the students if they liked cauliflower and they said ‘no.’ She also asked the students if they have ever tried cauliflower with ranch dressing. Each of the students said no and told her they didn’t like ranch dressing.

AINSWORTH—School is the last place students would want to be during the summer. However, at Ainsworth Elementary School once a week there are students who come to work in the garden.
Ainsworth Elementary School Principal Jane O’ Leary travels to the school to work in the garden. She said there is a group of children who regularly show up to help with pulling weeds in the garden.
“The kids just love to eat off of them [the produce the garden has grown],” O’ Leary said. “When the Bonebrake kids get up here—Logan just eats off of them. He eats everything.”
They also like to try the items in the garden. For example, Thursday morning the children were eating kale right from the stalk.
“It’s so good,” Logan Bonebrake said.
Bonebrake will be a fourth-grader at Ainsworth Elementary School next fall. He comes every week to help in the garden, which to him isn’t work.
“We get to pull stuff and after we pull stuff we get to eat it,” he said.
Last year the garden was smaller, Bonebrake said. This year there is more of a variety the students are growing in the garden.
“My group is growing potatoes, lettuce, kale, and radishes,” he said, “but we pulled all of the radishes.”
He hopes next school year some of the produce will be kept from the garden for students to eat at lunch.
Mike Goodrich, a custodian at Ainsworth Elementary School, whom the kids and staff at the school have nicknamed “Farmer Mike” also tries to do what he can in the garden during the week.
“I help them identify the plants and we weed what we can,” he said. “It kind of got away from them this last week [because of the rain]. All of the stuff is growing good.”
He was happy to see the kids discovering new things in the garden.
“The kids got into it and they discovered there were vegetables in the garden they never heard of before and I think they tried to plant quite a diversity of stuff,” Goodrich said. “None of them heard of okra last year and we planted quite a bit of it this year.”
In the next couple of weeks the garden will be producing a lot of vegetables, O’ Leary said.
“I think it’s going really well, but we could use more people,” she said.
There are only a couple of adult volunteers who come to help with the garden, including herself and Goodrich, O’ Leary said.
“I would like the community to become more involved,” she said. “They don’t have to spend a lot of time helping with the garden, but if they could come and pull weeds for a couple of minutes, that would really help.”
The students will also have to decide what to do with the produce before they begin harvesting it, which will probably be within two weeks, O’ Leary said.
“Maybe we’ll have a farmers market here on the picnic tables,” she said. “Who knows? I just hope, if we have one, people from the community will come.”

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