(THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 2015)
School’s out but several Pottstown High School students received education on nutrition and gardening this week.
About 40 students visited the Pottstown community garden at 423 Chestnut St. Tuesday. There was a lot of motion as students picked up shovels, spread soil and planted inside whiskey barrels. Whiskey barrel gardening is basically another form of container gardening. Pond sized rocks are laid as the foundation in the large barrels, then soil is spread out for the next layer and finally plants are inserted in the top soil.
Laura Washington, MOSAIC community garden manager, said students planted herbs, flowers and tomato plants in the barrels. Some of the barrels will be entered in the Pottstown Home Garden contest under the youth category.
Students visited the gardens as part of a Pottstown High School youth program called “21st Century.” It’s a year-long program where students prepare for college during the school year and freshmen are the focus in the summer.
“The program is designed to help the rising freshmen transition into high school,” said Jaime Parris, the program’s assistant coordinator.
Parris said freshmen will visit the gardens every Tuesday throughout the summer to learn about volunteer work.
“A lot of them are excited to be able to help out their community,” he said.
Students are also learning the importance of nutrition through gardening efforts and cooking classes they participate in as part of the summer program.
Ashley Faison, 21st Century enrichment instructor, said the freshmen learn about proper eating and basic planting methods. She said they can take back the healthy habits they learn to the rest of their family and friends.
“We definitely have the kids eating more vegetables and greens than ever before,” she said.
As part of the youth program, students also learn about cultures through book study, swim at the Pottstown YMCA and take regular field trips. Parris said the students get regular excise during the summer too.
“The good fitness piece of it is that they walk here (community garden) from the high school,” he said.
Parris said the program gives the freshmen something positive to be a part of this summer while also preparing them for the school year.