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Sun, Nov. 17

FoodCorps gardens take root at school

Patrick Whitehurst/The Daily Courier<br>Samantha Turner with the Prescott Farmers Market works with fourth-grade students Johanna Nash, Owen Briggs and Acacia Hahn at Mountain Oak School on Wednesday.

Patrick Whitehurst/The Daily Courier<br>Samantha Turner with the Prescott Farmers Market works with fourth-grade students Johanna Nash, Owen Briggs and Acacia Hahn at Mountain Oak School on Wednesday.

PRESCOTT, Arizona - Students at Prescott's Mountain Oak Charter School braved the chilly spring snow Wednesday for a chance to grow.

The students, part of the fourth-grade garden class, planted flowers and vegetables in the school's budding gardens and worked on a trellis for hanging peas. Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall also paid the class a visit Wednesday as part of the Mayor's Day of Recognition for National Service.

"If you can get young people, at this age, interested in something, this is a great opportunity for them to do projects together and actually see something happen," Kuykendall said. "I've always been fascinated with animal growth, with plant growth, because every day is a new world. It's exciting to see the enthusiasm going on here."

FoodCorps member Samantha Turner with the Prescott Farmers Market spearheads the Mountain Oak garden class.

FoodCorps is a nationwide organization designed to promote healthy kids, educate them about healthy food choices, bring local food into cafeterias and start local gardens.

Mountain Oak operates not only a small garden for each of its preschool-through-eighth -grade classes, but also a spiral garden located onsite.

"They're planting bulbs," Turner said. "It's basically a math lesson where they're using their finger span for six inches apart, and then we're starting seed: basil, cucumber, pumpkin, watermelon and gourd to sell at our spring festival and put in our garden."

The garden also grows broccoli, cabbage, carrots, radishes, beets, spinach and kale. "Each grade gets a bed and they grow whatever they want," Turner said.

Besides running school gardens at Mountain Oak, Turner also works at Miller Valley Elementary School and can be found at the local Farmers Market, where she operates an educational booth. On Saturday, April 5, Turner will work on a garden cleanup at Miller Valley School from 9 a.m. to noon.

She also operates a Farm to School educational program, which focuses on the importance of buying, eating and supporting local growers.

Fourth-grade student Rowan Reilly helped his fellow students construct a fence for growing plants. "That way the wind doesn't ruin the plants. I think farming is really fun," Rowan said.

Planting, said fourth-grader Acacia Hahn, is like growing "little babies." "It's fun seeing them grow," she added.

For more information on the FoodCorps programs, contact Turner at sam.turner@foodcorps.org or visit www.foodcorps.org.

Follow reporter Patrick Whitehurst on Twitter @pwdcourier

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