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Garden at JFK Grows Vegetables and Community Spirit (video)

Garden at JFK Grows Vegetables and Community Spirit (video)essential

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Nov. 11, 2014)


The last of the kale has been harvested. The samples of farm fresh foods have all been consumed by curious and hungry children. And the Friday afternoon produce stand has been packed away for the winter as the community garden at JFK Elementary wraps up its sixth season.

Farmer JJ (Jennifer Vermeersch) and other dedicated parents have grown the garden program at the school, which is part of the Ferndale School District, into a satisfying farm to table experience for the youngsters. The school now has three outdoor beds where children of all grades have a role in growing herbs, kale, tomatoes, carrots, beans, peas, sunflowers and a variety of other plants.


Students plant the seeds, care for the beds, water Jim Shaffer KELLER ad blackand weed. Once the food is grown, the children harvest it, and it is either sold whole at their weekly farm stand, or used in delicious healthy foods for them to sample.

“They love learning about the vegetables,” said Megan Pool who has four kids attending JFK. “It’s a great way just to have the education and knowledge… They are willing to try new things. For me they get excited about gardening; they get me exited about gardening.” Poole’s family particularly enjoyed when daughter Ester brought home a single pea pod they were able to grow at home into an entire plant.

20141111garden02Sixth grader Elliott said he’s enjoyed the Asian food that the volunteers make, and also the herbs, lisa schmidt lawcucumbers and tomatoes. “After school you can get food and just try it or you can buy stuff for a cheap price, like not as much as if you were to go to a grocery store,” he said.

The garden is great for parents and students, giving them a break from their classroom activity that is still both physically and mentally enriching. Third grade teacher Cara Edwards loves having the garden at JFK. “It’s great for kids to see how plants are planted and grow, and to have a chance to be out doors amongst nature, getting their hands in the soil and tasting the food that they’re growing. It just really helps build that stewardship that we all need to cultivate.”

For the final harvest Farmer JJ teamed up with other active parents Gina Onyx and Stacy Budzik to prepare a meal for teachers. The Kennedy Soup they served over rice was a hearty combination of vegetables and herbs grown by the students, including kale, onion, garlic and herbs. “I’m really hoping to get the teachers more excited about the garden. There is so much we can do with this,” Farmer JJ said. She spoke to the teachers about the potential for incorporating the garden into more of their lesson plans, and in general about how they can help.

For more on the garden check out the video below, and like them on Facebook at


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