A garden at New Market Middle School planted last winter has yielded more than 400 fruits and vegetables for families in need.
The garden, which contains more than 50 plants, was harvested for the first time this summer, sending more than 215 sqaush, 150 tomatoes and 45 cucumbers to the Greater Urbana Area Food Bank.
About a dozen students at the school, teachers and a neighbor volunteer their time to keep the garden running.
Thirteen-year-old Tyson Tregoning of Libertytown is the Seeds of Change club’s unofficial president, he said.
“We got really into it and started planting more and more,” Tyson said of the club. “It’s just really fun. We get to dig up ground, get out of the building some more and help out families in need.”
DeDe Pucino, whose home borders the school grounds, said Tyson pushed the cause with other students in the school and made them excited to get involved.
“He’s really pulled it together and made it fun for everyone,” she said.
Pucino said the school’s former principal, Brian Vasquenza, saw a greater purpose for the garden. Teaching the students empathy and creating a caring school environment could perhaps help root out bullying, she said.
When new principal Jennifer Bingman started this year, Vasquenza raved about the garden. She’s keeping it for good, Bingman said.
Susan Esworthy, a science teacher at New Market Middle, said the garden will also be worked into the school’s curriculum.
“We will try to use it in science and wherever else we can in the school,” she said.
They plan to plant pumpkins soon for jack-o’-lanterns, she said.
Last year, the school held an assembly to discuss the food bank and harvesting their own food with students.
“It amazed us that kids didn’t know where food comes from. They didn’t know how to plant or how to use a shovel. They are truly grocery store kids,” Esworthy said.
But that’s changing now.
“They are learning more, and they are appreciating more,” she said.