Project helps students learn to grow fresh food

Brooke Grasso
LV Life Editor

Students in the early childhood student teaching class renovated the garden at Fairplex’s Child Development Center Nov. 26 to help students learn how to grow their own food, understand the process of farm to table and maintain healthy eating habits.

The class worked with local businesses to make the garden a place where the students can grow their own produce as part of their service learning project.

“It is important because the Fairplex Child Development Center serves a lot of kids that come from lower socioeconomic families,” Angelina Kajohn, senior child development major, said. “This garden could be the only access to a garden they have.”

The team of ULV students reached out to local businesses requesting donated materials to help revive the garden.

Orchard Hardware was a major source of support, donating seeds, seedlings, soil, aprons and tools for the kids to maintain the garden.

“In life we have to work together as a community,” Amy Blandford, interim director of student fieldwork and child development faculty said.

With the donated items, the class got together to pull weeds, take out old wood chips, put in new soil and plant seedlings. Snap peas, broccoli and bok choy are a few of the newly-added vegetables.

“We kind of assessed the needs of the population and they had this garden that was just totally over run,” Kelly Sera, senior child development major, said.

Although at one point the garden was well maintained by the classes, senior child development major Ashley Meneses noticed it was nearly unusable when her son started taking classes at the Center.

She was inspired to coordinate a project to make it more accessible and inviting for the children.

After taking the idea to her service learning class, the group worked together to make it something they envisioned together Meneses said.

“Now that I’m a parent, I’m very inspired by my son,” Meneses said.

“Children are watching adults, we are role models so if we are taking the first steps, children will follow,” she said.

The group is also creating a manual for teachers that will include information on healthy eating tips along with seed information on the seeds donated by Orchard Hardware that will be planted in the spring.

They will also develop a newsletter for parents about the effects of healthy eating on brain development.

“We can make a difference in the community if we reach out and speak up,” Meneses said. “Be about it, don’t just talk about it. It is a chain reaction …and it starts with just one person.”

Brooke Grasso can be reached at

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