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Botetourt County student garden feeds classmates

Central Academy Middle School transformed into garden

BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. – From the classroom to the cafeteria. Botetourt County students are growing veggies used on the lunch salad bar.

"This has been a student-driven project from day one," said Jennifer Hannah, a Central Academy Agriscience teacher.

The back of Central Academy Middle School used to be bare but one year later it is home to tomatoes, cucumbers and fish.

"I'm learning plant science, taking care of animals, taking care of crops," said Dylan Matheny, a Central Academy 7th grader who likes taking care of the fish the most. "It's fun. I like working outside. It's nice doing all this. It looks like it's really gone together well. Plants are doing good."

"It's amazing. Everybody's working together also," said Kaela Riddle, a Central Academy 7th grade student.

This all started thanks to a class partnership with agriscience and art. Students planned what the garden would look like, decorated rocks to add and planted everything.

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Jennifer Hannah says it's all thanks to a grant. They have been working with Mountain Castle Soil and Water Conservation District. The group had a grant through the Chesapeake Bay Foundation for the purpose of school improvement and to attract pollinators to the area by installing native plant species.

The garden gives middle school students a chance to be outside and learn, something many of these students don't get the chance to do at home.

"I hope they walk away with some skills gained where they can do some sustainable gardening for themselves but also some great pride in the work that they've done. This is a huge project for them," said Hannah.

The new plan is to add a greenhouse so students can work year-round.


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