FAIRBANKS — Around town, students can be found digging, pulling, plucking and planting in gardens run by Calypso Farms.
This summer’s active school gardens are at Hunter Elementary School, Randy Smith Middle School and Woodriver Elementary School. Kid crews of a maximum of 10 people work to grow and harvest food.
Sarah Furman, school garden coordinator, said the kids enjoy the work for different reasons and are learning as they go.
“If you asked them, they would all say it’s really fun, because you get to make friends and eat good food,” Furman said.
She said some students are interested in the gardening aspect — planting and harvesting the vegetables — while others have the most fun selling the fruits of their labor to customers at farm stands.
Calypso’s gardening season begins almost as soon as the snow melts, Furman explained. School garden supervisors with the organization go to schools to get classes involved in preparation for gardening, including garden bed tilling and starting seeds. The supervisors also act as resources for teachers who want to teach their kids how to grow plants.
When school begins again in fall, the supervisors help students with the final harvesting, which is fun for students even if they didn’t participate in the summer gardening.
Furman said she was with one kindergarten class who had a blast digging potatoes.
“It’s super fun — it’s like a game,” she said.
She noticed kids tend to love harvesting things they can dig up or pull from the ground, such as carrots.
So far this summer, students have sold things such as lettuce, spinach, kale, peas, radishes, turnips, herbs and rhubarb at their farm stands. Later, the gardens will produce squashes, broccoli, beets, carrots, kohlrabi, cabbages and potatoes.
The student’s hard work will be put on display July 28 at the Engaging Alaskan Teens in Gardening Celebration. Students will work with local chefs to prepare appetizers made from the freshly grown vegetables.
The school gardens program seems to come full circle, Furman said.
“I think one major thing is just seeing and touching hands-on where food comes from,” she said.
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