ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) —
A state grant is allowing a local school to teach its young students how to grow their own food.
“I’ve been a little less scared about growing stuff,” lead teacher at Irene Wortham Center Melissa Kucin said. “I actually kill everything I plant. But I’ve actually grown a few tomato plants in my own house this year.”
The grant for the student garden at the Irene Wortham Center came from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.
The students at the center are learning to plant their own veggies, but Kucin said it’s deeper than that.
“From an emotional and social point of view, the garden teaches children and calms them and brings them a good wellbeing just to be around nature,” she said.
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The school teamed up with Lauren Roddick-Brown, of the Asheville Farmstead School, to build the garden.
“They have the ability and the capacity to support themselves through food growing and an understanding the diverse amount of vegetables we can grow,” Roddick-Brown said. “The agricultural zone North Carolina is in, we can grow pretty much anything.”
The possibilities are endless, which is the message teachers want the students to understand.
“So, getting children to eat their vegetables is not the easiest in the world to do, but being part of the process in studies have shown children will eat more vegetables if they know where it came from. It’s not so foreign to them,” Kucin said.
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Now, it’s second nature to these students at Irene Wortham.
“It’s an exposure to how things grow, where vegetables come from and a opener of maybe tomatoes aren’t so bad,” Kucin said.
“I believe that every school should be teaching children how to grow food. If nothing else, COVID has shown us that our food system is not bullet proof and we need everyone to know, yes, carrots come from the ground,” Roddick-Brown said. “Yes, you can buy them from Ingles, but you can also grow them in your backyard, and you can have some independence and some self-sufficiency.”
Irene Wortham primarily serves children with disabilities and socio-economic challenges.
“We want them to learn that anyone can plan a garden and you can plant a garden in anything, no matter anywhere you’re at, and it can even be in your kitchen,” Roddick-Brown said.
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The garden helps teach students they can do anything they put their minds to.
“Working with your hands and learning through doing is the best way to learn,” Kucin said. “Learning through play is key for children at this age of development and also through adulthood.”