Donation garden: Olin students raise fruits, vegetables for donation to county sites

Olin School students plant produce as part of the donation garden project. (Photos submitted)

Olin fourth-grader Delilah Crowley holds up a radish harvested by the students.

     Jones County Extension partnered with Jones County Master Gardeners and the Olin School district to start a donation garden planted, taken care of, and harvested by the students at Olin School.

     Jones County Extension started in March, working weekly with each of the grades at Olin School. Once a week, Nanci Null and others from the Extension staff would lead a day long curriculum – school days involved a theme for each day, a book about that theme some type of hands on activity related to gardening, and a taste test of different vegetables, fruits, herbs, and even crickets (they tried flavored crickets).

     Over the summer, weekly classes continued in partnership with the Olin Library and Jones County Farm Bureau Kelli Lasack – using the same curriculum approach of a theme, book, hands-on activity, and a taste test. Kids also helped in the garden with weeding and harvesting produce each week.

     Produce from the garden equated to 790 pounds of produce that was donated locally in Jones County – Mobile Food Pantry, food pantries in each city, and Senior Dining sites across the county. On Back-to-School night, Olin families were able to pick up produce to take home as well.

     The funding for this opportunity was provided through a Mini Grant awarded to Jones County Extension – The ISU Extension and Outreach Master Gardener Program and ISU Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Education (SNAP-Ed) Program collaborated to provide these opportunities to ensure the produce grown will reach local food pantries.

     Jones County and Olin School were still working together as kids came back to school this fall – harvesting produce, cleaning up the garden, and moving to a monthly program for all students on early out Wednesdays – where the Extension team is again utilizing the theme, book, hands on activity, and taste test.

     The Olin School Garden is planned again for this spring and summer and hopes to increase the amount of food donated across Jones County. 


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