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Faces of Local: Amanda Fox, Emma Elementary School

ASAP likes to share stories of people who help us fulfill our mission and contribute to growing our local food movement. This month in celebration of the start of the school year, we’ve spoken with Amanda Fox, the Student Support Specialist at Emma Elementary School about using their school/community garden (maintained in collaboration with their neighbor, Emma Family Resource Center), to grow food with their students. Hear how Amanda’s students react to gardening and trying new things, and how the community uses the garden too! 

Q: Tell us about the garden. Who is using it?

The garden has been in place for 10 years. The garden is unique as it is maintained as a partnership between Emma Elementary and the Emma Family Resource Center. It’s there as a space for children in the classroom as well as for folks in the community to set aside a parcel to grow food. There aren’t a lot of spaces for recreation within walking distance of the school, so a lot of families come and use it on weekends.

Q: You are using seeds from our Growing Minds team to plant in the garden. What are you growing right now?

I picked up seeds for carrots, watermelon radish, rainbow chard, and beets. Carrots are my top pick to grow with kids because they are so much fun to harvest. Beets are fun too because they are so colorful and it’s hard for kids to resist eating them even though they think they may not like beets. Last week when we were planting carrots, one student said she didn’t like carrots. But I’ve found that most kids think things taste better if they’ve planted it. Kids are fascinated to see seed turn into food. I also want to try pickled beet eggs with the kids this year.

Q: Any good stories from the garden so far this school year?

Last week when we were planting carrots, we discovered some tadpoles in the pond. Also, some corn had fallen down in the big storm, and we found an ear that had been chewed on. We stopped and talked about who might have done it. Since these were kindergartners, there were all sorts of ideas! It’s good to take note of what’s going on in the world around you, take it back to the classroom, and think about how it’s relatable to what they’re learning.

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

Emma Elementary is a very diverse school, with lots of different nationalities in the school population. We’ve had a lot of participation from the Hispanic population in the community. They are growing things that are cultural relevant to their community and it’s good to see that reflected in the garden and good for connections for all of us.

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