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Little Sprouts

Fairview Elementary Second Graders Discover Joys of Gardening

“We’re gonna eat the lettuce!”

“They’ve grown so big!”

“What is the white stuff? It’s wet and slimy!”

Fifteen excited second graders clamor around Amanda Mitchell, Growing High Point’s Farm to Table Coordinator, in Saniqua Seay’s classroom at Fairview Elementary School. Every Thursday, “Miss Amanda” visits to teach them how to grow microgreens in the school’s grow tower, which is located in their classroom.

With a $300 micro-grant from the Guilford County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers, Fred Hoffman, IPG Coach, ordered seed pods and labels over the holiday break. Once the students returned, Amanda conducted the first lesson Jan. 25. The microgreens grew quickly, which helped build interest and enthusiasm.

The students excitedly search for their names on labels to identify which plants are theirs. Amanda explains that they should only eat the top of the microgreens, not the stem, and some students pop them into their mouths. “Tastes like salad,” one boy says.

As the class walks outside to the raised beds in their courtyard, Amanda shares beet seeds. She shows them how to poke their gloved fingers into the soil, drop the seed, and cover it. Most students focus on digging holes and finding worms, bugs or roots from last season. The raised beds were installed by Furnitureland Rotary Club, along with cisterns that capture rainwater from the school’s roof.

Amanda asks them what other crops they want to plant. Potatoes, carrots, strawberries, tomatoes and squash top their list. Thanks to Southside Community Garden’s Manager Johnny Horne and Assistant Manager Bobby Coleman, the crops will be cared for while the students are gone over the summer. They’ll return to a bountiful harvest for the 2024-25 school year.

Johnny Horne grew up in the neighborhood and attended Fairview, where he grew a bean sprout that ignited a lifelong love of gardening. He has tended the Southside Community Garden for 20 years, and this year it is expanding to Cassell Street, where he and Bobby can grow even more produce for the community.

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