Reynoldsburg News

Campers will use gardens to grow 'Edible Schoolyard'

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Reynoldsburg students hope to "go green" in late spring when they will use two community garden plots to create the city's first "Edible Schoolyard."

Joe Brown, director of the Reynoldsburg Parks and Recreation Department, and Ruby White, STEM coordinator at Kiddie Academy, are collaborating with Reynoldsburg City Schools on the project.

Brown said between 30 and 70 students will learn to plant and take care of a garden using plots at Civic Park.

"The kids will learn to garden and grow produce and will sell some of their produce in the farmers market," he said. "They will also donate vegetables to the local school program in the Reynoldsburg summer day camp collaboration."

Brown said those involved with the Edible Schoolyard program will likely be students enrolled in the new Camp Adventure day camp at Hannah Ashton Middle School, a collaboration among the district, the city and Kiddie Academy.

The day camp begins June 10, with a registration deadline of May 24. It will run through most of the summer, until Aug. 16. Parents must register children to attend Camp Adventure for a minimum of four weeks. Information about fees and schedules is available from Kiddie Academy at 614-866-1422.

"We are still working out the details of the Edible Schoolyard, but we have developed logos for the program and each plot will have a sign with the Edible Schoolyard logo on it," Brown said.

White coordinates STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) enrichment classes and clubs for Kiddie Academy, which operates the after-school latchkey programs at Reynoldsburg schools.

"We are expecting about 300 kids for our summer camp program, with 30-70 kids involved in the Edible Schoolyard," she said. "This summer is our launch, but we hope to continue a garden program year-round at each school."

She said the hub of the project will be at the Civic Park community garden.

"We will have two 10-foot by 20-foot lots and we will transform those lots into outdoor classrooms," she said. "Besides offering some vegetables at the Reynoldsburg Farmers Market, we hope to contribute vegetables back to the culinary programs at Kiddie Academy and to the Reynoldsburg food pantry."

White said community gardening and schoolyard gardening are "becoming a huge movement."

"Our program will feature all kinds of gardening, including vertical gardening," she said.

The Edible Schoolyard project began in Berkeley, Calif., nearly 17 years ago, when a middle school principal contacted a gardener about an acre of land on his school campus, hoping to start an outdoor garden/classroom. The Center for Ecoliteracy provided funding for a garden director, and over the years, the project expanded to gardening and cooking classes, along with the middle school-Berkeley garden providing seasonable vegetables, berries and fruits to all of that district's schools.

White said Reynoldsburg's Edible Schoolyard could be the start of an equally successful project.

"I'm looking forward to seeing how all of the school sites work together," she said. "We are building a mini local food system and it will be exciting to see how it all comes together."

Reynoldsburg's community garden plots opened for planting April 1 at Civic Park, 6801 Daugherty Drive, and behind the Truro Township fire station, 6305 E. Livingston Ave.

Fees for the plots are $30 each for Reynoldsburg residents and $40 for others.

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