Eastern Kentucky PRIDE

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Winter gardening at Pikeville Elementary

Two Pikeville Elementary School students, Luke and Caden McNamee, sampled vegetables from their winter garden. Photo provided by Cathy Rehmeyer, Mother of a Hubbard blog.

Two Pikeville Elementary School students, Luke and Caden McNamee, sampled vegetables from their winter garden. Photo provided by Cathy Rehmeyer, Mother of a Hubbard blog.

Fresh vegetables are on the menu at Pikeville Elementary School this winter, thanks to the “Plant It for the Planet” project by students in Traci Tackett’s Primary Talent Pool and Gifted Education classes.

The students, who are in grades four through ten, are tending a winter garden. The school cafeteria has served up their produce in salads and coleslaw.

In four raised beds, they are growing a stir-fry garden, salad bar garden, coleslaw garden and rainbow kale garden. The beds are covered with low tunnels to protect the plants from cold temperatures.

Students have learned how to garden, from start to finish. They planted, thinned, harvested and even cooked their vegetables. To help their plants grow, the students compost, worm farm and grow a pollinator garden.

Beyond gardening, the project has created other learning opportunities. Students taught lessons to preschool and kindergarten classes. They led tours of the garden. They collaborated with a special-needs class to plant the cole slaw garden. High school students picked up marketing skills while selling produce from the gardens at the Pike County Farmers Market.

“Overall, this project has flourished more than I ever dreamed possible,” Tackett said. “The students started planting in August, and they were so excited as the gardens began to sprout.”

“Cathy Rehmeyer gave us seedlings from her garden beds, and the students were able to get a taste of gardening,” Tackett said. “Their enthusiasm grew and with the assistance of Cathy, our maintenance crew, several community partners and resources from a former PRIDE grant, we have expanded with much success.”

Pikeville Elementary School students who work in the winter garden accepted the PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award. High school students involved in the project were not available at the time the photo was taken. Back row, left to right: Chloe Roberts, Merrick Byers, Sam Wright, Cady Cooley, Molly Coleman, Emily Hopkins, Adrian Shepherd, Emily Stiltner, Hailey Justice, Andrew Bentley, Austin Huynh. Middle row: Neil Arnett, Traci Tackett, Tyler Varney, Isaiah Huffman, Alexandra Fleniken, Sarah Belcher, Olivia Hall, John Workman, Jason Lin, Aneesh Sharma, Cathy Rehmeyer. Front row: Noah Jarrell, E.B. Walters, Jackson Hall, Olivia Williamson, Cameron Jones, Ginna Jones, Gracie Hall, Hannah Kidd, Johnathan Newsome, Caden McNamee.

Pikeville Elementary School students who work in the winter garden accepted the PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award. High school students involved in the project were not available at the time the photo was taken. Back row, left to right: Chloe Roberts, Merrick Byers, Sam Wright, Cady Cooley, Molly Coleman, Emily Hopkins, Adrian Shepherd, Emily Stiltner, Hailey Justice, Andrew Bentley, Austin Huynh. Middle row: Neil Arnett, Traci Tackett, Tyler Varney, Isaiah Huffman, Alexandra Fleniken, Sarah Belcher, Olivia Hall, John Workman, Jason Lin, Aneesh Sharma, Cathy Rehmeyer. Front row: Noah Jarrell, E.B. Walters, Jackson Hall, Olivia Williamson, Cameron Jones, Ginna Jones, Gracie Hall, Hannah Kidd, Johnathan Newsome, Caden McNamee.

“This project is environmental education at its best,” said PRIDE’s Tammie Wilson, who presented the PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award to the students on Jan. 19.

“Fun, hands-on activities help students understand and remember what they first learned from books in the classroom,” Wilson explained. “They are picking up knowledge they will need on state science tests, and, at the same time, they’re building gardening skills that they will use for a lifetime. It’s a great combination.”

“There’s also a great sense of satisfaction in getting your hands dirty, raising up plants from seeds and then eating food you grew yourself,” Wilson added. “This project is giving students confidence and enthusiasm for learning, which will carry over into other classes and other parts of their lives.”

Tackett thanked the community volunteers who support the project. Rehmeyer — a professor at Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine and author of the award-winning Mother of a Hubbard gardening blog — donated seeds and mentors the students. Joyce and Charlie Pinson gave students a tour of their Friends Drift Inn Farm.

Local organizations also contributed to the project. The Pike County Soil Conservation Board purchased a compost bin, garden tools and peat moss for the soil. Sustainable Pike County bought soil for the raised beds and the PVC pipe for the supports of the low tunnel. The Sunshine Grow Shop donated and discounted plants for the pollinator garden. Atmore Industries donated a roll of Gro-Guard for the low tunnels.

The school’s greenhouse and raised beds were purchased with a PRIDE grant. Originally located at Pikeville High School, they were moved to PES due to a construction project.

The PRIDE Environmental Education Project of the Month Award rewards creative, effective ways of promoting environmental awareness and stewardship. PRIDE presents one award each month to an education project within the 42 counties of southern and eastern Kentucky.

PRIDE is a nonprofit organization supporting environmental cleanup and education efforts in the region.

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