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ACGC fourth-graders take active part in their school lunches

Nellie Laidlaw, 9, measures the weight of a beet she picked. Tribune photo by Ashley White2 / 2

GROVE CITY -- On Friday morning, 48 Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City fourth-graders braved the cold and a few raindrops to harvest vegetables from the school district's garden.

In addition to lessons in math and science, the group of fourth-graders also took away lessons in healthy eating and living.

"Hopefully they understand why we're doing this, for the health and nutritional aspect," said Tami Bennett-Tait, data instructional coach and continuing improvement specialist for the ACGC School District. Bennett-Tait also oversees the school garden project.

This is the third year the school district has maintained its garden at the junior-senior high school in Grove City. Various classes from throughout the district use the garden to teach students, and most of the produce grown there is served in the district's lunch program.

This year, the school planted asparagus, potatoes, carrots, beets, cucumbers, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, kohlrabi, tomatoes, peppers and dill in the garden.

"The kids are aware of where the food comes from when they're eating it, and they like it for the most part," Bennett-Tait said. "They're not going to like everything, of course, but we're always trying new things out here."

On Friday, the fourth-graders from Liz Wheeler, Darin Ditterich and Heather Bednarek's classes harvested beets, potatoes and cucumbers from the garden, cleaned them off and measured them for length, circumference and weight. They then ranked the vegetables from least to greatest, or greatest to least.

"Right now they're learning about fractions and place values, so they're going to take their data back to the classroom and graph it," Bennett-Tait said. "They were covering both math and science standards."

The classes then gathered up the produce and took it back to the elementary school in Atwater to give to the cooks, who will use it to make school lunches.

Despite the cold and wind, the students enjoyed being out in the garden and picking vegetables for their lunches, they said.

"I'm not really a beet fan, but I love cucumbers and potatoes," said Cassidy Lunz, 9.

Logan Sherwood, 9, found an extra-large potato in the garden. "Mine's like four potatoes in one," he said with a laugh. "We're going to clean them off and give them to the cooks and then they'll cook them for lunch."

"The fourth-graders get so excited to come out here. They just have so much fun," Bennett-Tait said. "Gardening is something they can do throughout their lives, so hopefully they're learning the health benefits of it now, while they're young."

Ashley White

Ashley White is the community content coordinator for the West Central Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @Ashley_WCT.

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