Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Grade-School Farmers; U. City Program Offers Hands-On Skills to Supplement the Diet of Kids in Need

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Grade-School Farmers; U. City Program Offers Hands-On Skills to Supplement the Diet of Kids in Need

Article excerpt

UNIVERSITY CITY * "Oats, peas, beans and barley grow, Oats, peas, beans, and barley grow

Do you, or I, or anyone know How oats, peas, beans, and barley grow?"

While the old children's song teaches how farmers grow their crops, the children at Pershing Elementary School are learning their own version how to grow crops right in the heart of their urban neighborhood.

Instead of oats, peas and barley, the grade-school farmers are planting the school grounds with bok choy, beans and collard greens, along with lettuce, spinach, chard and kale for families in a racially and ethnically diverse area a few blocks north of the Delmar Loop.

The gardens project is one part an Outdoor Classroom and one part a way to supplement the diets of children and families in the school district. About 70 percent of the students at the new Pershing School qualified for subsidized or free meals based on family income, according to a grant application last year.

"It's an exciting opportunity for the kids to learn firsthand about science and a way to put some extra vegetables on the table," says Helen Fuller, who works for U City in Bloom, a nonprofit that plants gardens throughout University City and is co-sponsor of the project with the University City School District.

Once completed, 14 raised-bed gardens one handicap accessible and an apple orchard will add a pastoral element to a neighborhood bounded on the east by an industrial park and the city of St. Louis. The gardens are on the south side of the school at Bartmer Avenue, next to a huge rain garden, blooming now with yellow wildflowers.

Lowe's Toolbox Educational Fund and the University City Educational Foundation gave grants to fund the gardens, and Lowe's has provided supplies and some labor.

During a "planting blitz" this month, volunteers for U City in Bloom and the Green Center worked with the children and put more than 400 vegetable plants in the beds. …

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