Growing at Quitman Lower Elementary

QLE students begin planting vegetables in their garden.Clarke County’s MSU Extension Program Assistant JoAnn Price is no stranger to the children of Quitman Lower Elementary. She has spent years promoting healthy eating to all Clarke County children in grades Pre-K though fourth. Now she is teaming up with the extension’s agriculture and natural resource departments and utilizing a grant from the Mississippi Department of Health. Part of that grant involves planting a school garden.
QLE students water their garden.

With the help of Clarke County Extension Agent Christy King, Horticulture Specialist Jeff Wilson, State 4-H Ambassador Cooper Thomas, and some very eager students in Mrs. Tucker’s class, Mrs. Price has been able to plant fall tomatoes, mustard, turnip, and collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, regular cabbage, lettuce, spinach, and brussel sprouts in 8′ x 16′ raised beds.

Both Price and King hope to have six blueberry bushes as well as three apple and three peach trees planted by the middle of October, and they’re thinking they can count on the school’s S.W.A.T. students to champion the project by providing the daily watering and general upkeep of the beds.

QLE students water their garden.

King explains, “We were able to come to Quitman Lower Elementary because they are the only Smarter Lunchroom in our county. They promote eating more fruits and vegetables. The students can have samples, and the cafeteria features a sample fruit and vegetable every month. They incorporate vegetables into the entrees and promote white milk over flavored milk. They use signage to promote good health to their students. This gardening is a natural connection to what is already in place at QLE. Mrs. Price has been providing the age-appropriate nutrition information and hands-on learning while the lunchroom is building on that knowledge. Now all students will see that someone grows what they eat, and they can grow their food at home. We want them to try new things and take that knowledge home with them.”

QLE students working with the soil in their garden.

What King and Price saw today were students eager to begin planting. Now they can only imagine the enthusiasm they will witness when the students begin to see what they have planted grow into the food they will eat.

Christy King getting help from a QLE student.