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Children’s Charter Middle School of Baton Rouge grow/harvest garden at LDAF

January 27, 2011

The 7th and 8th grade boys of Children’s Charter Middle School class harvested more than 100 pounds of cabbage and cauliflower today from a garden bed they planted last October at the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) headquarters in Baton Rouge.
The class, under the tutelage of Mary Nunnery-Williams, planted the winter garden when the starter seedlings were little more than the size of a finger. By late January, the cauliflower and cabbage heads had grown to a nice, plump supermarket size.
Nunnery-Williams said the class is donating the fresh produce to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Service, a charitable organization in Baton Rouge.
Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., told the class that growing their own vegetables could be an enjoyable hobby and profession.
“It’s important to teach our kids where their food comes from,” Strain said. “When they see produce in the grocery store they’ll have a greater appreciation of their food.’
Harry Schexnayder, the organic certification manager for LDAF, helped the students plant and harvest the garden.
Schexnayder also prepared a cauliflower soup and cole slaw made from the crop to demonstrate to the students how good fresh produce tastes.
“I think they really enjoyed the overall experience of getting their hands dirty to plant the garden and harvesting the food,” Schexnayder said. “I know they really enjoyed tasting the food they grew.”
Eva Davis, a nutrition specialist with the LSU AgCenter helped organize the Children’s Charter Middle School class for the project by teaming with Nunnery-Williams to teach the students about nutrition. She mentioned that children don’t always eat their vegetables.
“If they help prepare the food and the dish, they’re going to try it,”’ Davis said. “They’ll say, ‘That’s something I did,’ and hopefully they’ll like it and know how it feels to grow it, understand the nutrients and prepare a meal.”
“The project started as a nutrition project and during the course we decided to see if we could grow our own vegetables,” Nunnery said. “This was an excellent project. The students said they would definitely try more vegetables.”
Student Dyqwun Baker said he was surprised at the size of the cauliflower and had never tasted the vegetable.
“I thought it was going to be a little wimpy plant,” Baker said. “It was very amazing and I liked the cole slaw. It was spectacular.”