ASE Summer Gardening program concludes for West Preston

ARTHURDALE — Summer student gardening programs came to an end this week in Preston County.

Through a $19,000 supplemental grant to Preston County’s 21st Century Schools program, After School Explorers (ASE) was able to offer summer gardening programs at Bruceton, Fellowsville, Rowlesburg, South Preston and West Preston schools.

On Wednesday the West Preston program concluded. Eleanor Brewer said her two great-grandchildren had learned about planting a garden and working the soil.

Vicki Portzer, who is with the ASE Summer Gardening program, said seven raised planting beds were planted and tended to, during the six-week program. The class met 9 a.m. to noon each Wednesday.

“The object was to teach the kids about homegrown foods and to learn where food came from,” said site coordinator Cindy Strahin.

That also involved math, she said, as students looked at parameters, measured plant heights and mixed their own organic bug spray. The group also went on a field trip to view the North Elementary school garden and Joyce Tatham’s garden.

Students planted tomatoes, two kinds of peppers, cabbage, basil, yellow squash, radishes, lettuce, spinach, purple beans and sugar snap peas. Some were grown from seeds, and Modern Homestead donated some plants.

“I really like tomatoes, because I like watching them turn from green to yellow to red,” said 7-year-old Jacob Tatham.

Gracie Barto, 10, said she liked all the vegetable plants. She learned about different fertilizers and that some plants get smaller with age.

“This is wonderful. I’d like to see more of this,” said Susie Huggins, Preston County project coordinator for ASE. “My ultimate goal is I’d like to have that farm-to-table and sell produce back to the schools.”

About eight students came each day, Portzer said. Lack of transportation to the school probably kept away some, she said.

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