Kelly Mill Elementary School held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday, May 3, with the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce for a "grand opening" of its new vegetable garden.
Students served smoothies with spinach and strawberries grown from the garden and gave guests a tour of the space, including Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Jeff Bearden and members of the Forsyth County Education Foundation, a fund-raising arm of the school district that awarded Kelly Mill a $4,000 grant for its garden project.
The school used the grant to build eight raised garden beds, according to Laura Fedorchuk, a gifted education teacher at the school who led the project.
Dubbed the "We're Bringing Veggies Back!" project, Kelly Mill first-, second- and third-graders and the school's EcoTeam, an environmental club of third- through fifth-graders, worked throughout the year to bring the garden to life, and they got some help from the community. A local carpenter helped students build the garden beds. Heather Kolich, the Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent for UGA Extension-Forsyth County, taught students about some best practices of gardening.
Students planted a variety of foods throughout the school year, from carrots to cucumbers, tomatoes to watermelon, and they've already enjoyed some of the fruits of their labor. They served radishes harvested from the garden to the whole school, as well as smoothies made with spinach and strawberries from the garden.
Fedorchuk said the school has other uses in mind for the garden too. In particular, the school hopes to use food from the garden during a summer camp called Chef Wars, a culinary camp where students make dishes based on certain ingredients in a competition format like a reality TV food show.