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Charleston school grows young farmers

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Students at Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary in Charleston are learning to become farmers, due to a partnership between the West Virginia State University Extension Service and the Keep Your Faith Corp.

Gardens recently were installed at the school, and a group of Head Start students harvested the first batch of lettuce last week, using the crops to supplement the students’ school lunches.

“For several of these kids, it’s their first introduction to seeing where food comes from,” said WVSU 4-H Extension Agent Shelley Whittington, who gives agricultural education to the students. “Planting, growing and then eating their own foods helps them to understand sustainable agriculture at a very young age.”

A raised bed garden for vegetable and flower production was installed outside the school along with two tower gardens for lettuce and chives. Another tower garden to grow strawberries and herbs is located inside the school library, which Whittington stocked with several baskets of instructional books and resources to continue agricultural education in the classroom. Students helped plant the gardens and participate in their care and maintenance.

The Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary project is one of several elementary school collaborations with the WVSU Extension Service throughout the Kanawha Valley.