May 4, 2005 From the Garden to the Table is the name of an innovative program at Julius E. Sprauve School that helps a half-dozen special-needs students in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades grow.
"I learned a lot," Croy Krigger, 12, said Wednesday as the students in the program gathered at the garden.
One student from the gifted and talented program, J'Waun Athanase, also wanted to be part of the program, so he also takes his turn at tending the garden.
In January, the students started planting a small plot of land behind the school's cafeteria. By May, the spinach was climbing up the fence, they'd already harvested a handful of sweet and hot peppers, the eggplant had flowers, and the herbs were ready for use.
"We cut some herbs, we washed it, we cut it up smaller, we put in some sour cream and some butter," Mitchell Turnbull, 11, said as he described how he and his classmates made spinach dip.
Teacher K.D. Munnelly-Scheer said that in June the students will prepare a meal using produce from the garden.
Lettuce is poking up through the ground, the papaya plant is close to waist high, and an orange tree at the garden's edge was pruned and is now flourishing.
Pineapples started from tops sliced off in Caneel Bay Resort's kitchen that were headed for the garbage are growing side by side at the far end of the garden.
"And there's basil," Rosie Powell, 10, said.
They tried okra, principal Mario Francis' favorite, but didn't have much success.
The project is funded through a $2,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Special Nutrition Program.
Munnelly-Scheer said that Elvis R. Smith, 11, comes in on holidays and weekends to water the garden.
Leonard Jackson, 11, said he's putting to use what he's learned in his home garden.
Francis said the students are learning about nutrition. Munnelly-Scheer added that while the students are learning gardening skills, they're also learning responsibility.
"They have to trim and weed," she said.
They've learned about soil types, how to compare prices when they shop for equipment, and how to use waste plants and vegetables to create a compost.
She said their self-esteem gets a big boost when visitors ask them questions about their garden, and that the kids are having fun.
"It's good," Saraita Miles, 11, said.
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