At Gary A. Knox Elementary School, every grade level has a chance to get their hands dirty for the sake of science. For most of the school year, agricultural science teacher Ann Ogram and her students have been devotedly tending to their “Garden of Learning,” where over 60 beds of fresh produce are ready for harvest.
Today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again on Jan. 15, Ogram and her students are hosting their annual farmer’s market, and they’re inviting the community to come get a taste of the fruit (or greens and vegetables, rather) of their labor.
They’ll be set up outside the school, located at 2926 S. 21st Drive, with large brown bags full of an assortment of organically-grown broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beets, carrots, cilantro, frisee, kale, spinach, green leaf and iceberg lettuce and romaine. For $10, market-goers can take their own bag home to enjoy.
All purchases are cash-only, and the profits go directly to the agricultural science program.
“Here in Yuma, agriculture is so important to us and it’s imperative that they learn as much as they can about it,” Ogram said. “Our main goal is to teach them about all aspects of the agriculture industry.”
Each grade level has a different responsibility in the garden, whether it’s watering and fertilizing the beds or checking the drip tape for necessary repairs. By spending most of their 40-minute classtime out in the garden each day, they’re able to get truly acquainted with the hard work involved in growing a bountiful garden – which makes their crops taste even better when they try them.
“Nothing tastes better than a carrot right out of the ground,” Ogram said. “The most rewarding thing about (the garden) is seeing the kids’ excitement to try the things they’re growing and take them home to their families. Some of them have even taken what they’ve been learning here and started growing things at home. That makes it all worthwhile.”
And for children of fieldworkers, the “Garden of Learning” is a unique opportunity to heighten their understanding and appreciation for their parents’ daily labor and diligence.
“It also helps to break down the stigma that some of them may feel from that and truly honors the work that they do,” said Mario Hogue, Crane School District community relations coordinator.
Without the help of the garden’s “parent company,” JV Smith, Ogram said none of this would be possible.
“Vic Smith had a vision to help kids learn about agriculture, and this is the fulfillment of that,” Ogram said. “The crews come out and help us with harvesting and we’re so grateful, because we wouldn’t have such a showcase of our fall planting season without them.”