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Helping Hands

By Ariel Duran, Phase II Fellow

I believe food is best shared. Whether it’s the last slice or the first batch of something special, enjoying it together makes it taste just a little bit better. This can look like sharing a piece of the proverbial pie, passing on a recipe, contributing an ingredient, or helping to stir the pot.

1st Grade Tree Planting.

As a Phase II Fellow, this year I’ve been working with the Highland County Public Schools to help manage their school garden. One of my goals is to have as many people involved in the process of growing food at the school as possible - growing this food can’t happen without the help of others. From teachers to students to community members, it has been great to see so many people play an important part in this project.

Carpentry Class Working in the Greenhouse.

To grow food, two simple things are needed: location and care. The school already has the location – it has a raised bed garden, greenhouse and perennial space. Where I’ve really seen people step up is in the “care” component. The carpentry class helped make repairs to the greenhouse, allowing us to better control the temperature. Students participated in a sign design contest for the garden. The co-op donated seeds. A father and son donated wood chips for mulch. The 4-H club donated trees. The landscaping class helped plant those trees for the STEM program and our garden. The agriculture class helped prune apple trees by the school’s playground. Teachers have taken it upon themselves to get their classes involved in the garden. They support their students through garden lessons and relate those topics back to the learning happening in their classrooms. Students offer ideas for more involvement and things to grow in the garden. They plant, seed, weed, dig, harvest worms, and will soon harvest food.

Landscaping Class Planting Trees.

Every time a person, class, and group show this care for the garden, it gives them ownership over a unique part of the growing process. These unique experiences have the potential to connect people across the community. When that food is ready to harvest, ownership becomes inclusive to the community. After all, sharing food isn’t just a favor to feed an appetite. To me, sharing food is sharing a story, a memory, an idea - it’s sharing something that I love.

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