Dana Elementary School Garden

— Written By Ty Ancrum
en Español / em Português

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Around February 2021, the School Garden at Dana Elementary was neglected after a couple of years. The garden needed an upheaval. Ty Ancrum, EFENP Program Assistant, and Donna Dixon, Agricultural Engineering Teacher, had several talks about reviving the garden and possibly incorporating produce from the garden to incorporate in nutrition classes.

The garden consists of 9 raised beds in the main area, and a side area with a Butterfly Garden, and a composter. One of the beds is dedicated to growing herbs.

Woman standing in garden

Donna Dixon along with Milton Butterworth and Custodial Manager discussing plans for the garden. Main area of the garden with 9 raised beds.

Herb garden

Before picture of herb garden.

Through several community meetings, Donna decided to begin work on the garden. She was hesitant about volunteers and funding. Through N.C. Cooperative Extension, Henderson County Center (HCCE), Extension Master Gardener℠ volunteers (EMGV) helped students clean and prepare the garden for planting season. Work began around March 2021. Several  EMGVs including HCCE current Intern Issac Wyatt, guided Dana Elementary students along with weeding, preparing garden beds, and planting starters plants/seeds.

A BIG THANK YOU to these volunteers:

  • Jane Gibbons
  • Libby Gilmore
  • Ray Korn
  • Stacy Murphy
  • Carol Tourville
  • Issac Wyatt
Kids preparing seeds

EMGV helping students prepare seeds.

Students helping to clean up garden

EMGV guiding students with garden clean-up.

Kids pulling weeds

A group of students weeding.

Kids working in garden

Student “tilling” soil after weeding.

During April 2021, students applied soil and planted several starter plants and seeds. Tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, along with milkweed, marigolds, and sunflowers were planted. HCCE provided funds for seeds, starter plants, and soil.

All throughout May 2021. Donna and Ty made regular class trips to show the students the garden process and how plants were growing. FCS Agent, Renay Knapp, taught 4th graders.

Summer School began at Dana Elementary in June 2021. With approximately 100 students participating, Donna and Ty incorporated garden time into CAMP, COOK, PLAY which is an EFENP summer camp setting-based curriculum that teaches children about MyPlate, the five food groups, and physical activity. Students were able to see how plants developed from seeds/starter plants into produce.

Boy in mask behind plant

A summer school student is about to pick a huge zucchini.

Students with vegetables

Students having a blast plucking peppers and squash.

School gardens provide students an opportunity to see how fresh food is grown and how it develops from seed, plant to table. We figure that school gardens provide a hands-on learning experience and hopefully influence students’ eating habits to increase fruit and vegetable intake. With the Dana School Garden, Ty hopes to continue work and incorporating produce for healthy snacks in the fall!

Woman with kids holding vegetables

Ty Ancrum and students displaying the garden delights.