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How does your garden grow?
Sunshine, water and a TC Farm Bureau grant
Students in the YES — Youth Experiencing Success — program at Bartlett Middle School can continue the enjoyment of getting their hands dirty while maintaining and working in the school garden thanks to a $250 renewal grant offered by the Tulare County Farm Bureau’s education committee.
In all, 22 schools throughout Tulare County, received $8,000 in Garden Grants — $500 for the creation of a new garden or $250 to renew-continue gardens.
Renewal grant recipients include Bartlett Middle School, Citrus South Tule, Harmony Magnet Academy, Pleasant View Elementary, Strathmore Union Elementary and several schools in Visalia. Among the new garden recipients are Roosevelt Elementary in Lindsay and Vine Street Community Day School in Porterville.
The schools were presented with their grants at the Farm Bureau’s Superintendent’s Breakfast Thursday at the COS Business, Industry and Community Services Center in Tulare.
Tulare County Farm Bureau also offers garden grant recipients an array of resources, including garden workshops and plant giveaways held twice a year for Farm Bureau sponsored gardens.
In addition, teachers may request a visit from the Beyond-the-Farm trailer; resources from the California Foundation for Ag in the Classroom; and gardening advice from the Master Gardeners at any time.
Bartlett Middle School was among the recipients.
Led by teacher John Duboski and YES program leader David Prestage, approximately a dozen students work diligently in the garden after school.
Originally started with a Lowes’ grant three years ago, the garden has continued with the grants from the Tulare County Farm Bureau.
“The kids are enthusiastic. They are learning all kind of things,” Prestage said. “Tulare County Farm Bureau recognizes the importance of reaching the agriculture potential at a young age. We’re encouraging thinking about potential careers in the agriculture field and pushing them towards the ag and Pathway programs at Strathmore and Granite Hills.”
Working in the garden on Monday were eighth-grader Destiny Beaston and seventh-grader Vita Berger.
The two students pulled weeds and prepped the soil in a large garden box for a new planting. Both said they were first-year participants.
Not so with Luis Diaz, who also worked in the garden, watering vegetables.
“He is amazing. That kid can identify any plant disease or insect problem that could potentially affect any of these plants,” Prestage said.
Diaz, who said he will enroll in the Academy of Digital Design Mass Communication, wants to also be a farmer and enjoys researching plants and pests.
At Bartlett, Diaz has plenty of plants he can research, including the present winter crop.
In the garden are red and green cabbage, Swiss chard, broccoli, cilantro, carrots, garlic, onions, peppers, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, artichoke, rosemary, spearmint and three other types of mint — chocolate, orange and lemon.
“We have time to run two seasons. As soon as the winter vegetables are over, we replace them with our spring garden,” Prestage said. “When school ends, many of the students will volunteer and come out to work in the garden to make sure weeds don’t take over. Just because the school year ends, it doesn’t mean the garden ends.”
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.