LINCOLN — Lincoln Middle School is forging ahead with raised bed gardens to provide fresh produce for school meals, though Food Nutrition Director Valerie Dawson had hoped to receive a $50,000 Farm to School federal grant to install an aquaponics system in the greenhouse.
Dawson said she will reapply next year and make sure to “dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s” in her application.
Dawson, with volunteer work from master gardeners and students in the middle school EAST class, already has 35 raised bed gardens in place behind the middle school, with plants starting to go into the soil.
Ivan Huffmaster, EAST facilitator, said his classes did a survey of the students to see what they would like from the garden. Choices included tomatoes, carrots, blueberries, raspberries, cucumbers, lettuce and bell peppers.
Tomatoes and cucumbers have been planted in the 8-foot-by-12-inch containers. Strawberries were going in recently, and watermelons are next. A shady area next to the building is being used for lettuce.
Dawson is excited that with tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce already planted and growing in the beds, the school will be able to make salads from the fresh produce in the future.
She hopes to get more students involved with the garden, saying “if the kids grow the food, they are going to eat it.”
To prepare the garden area, EAST students laid down weed cloth and moved 30 yards of pea gravel to help prevent weeds from growing around the beds. The day was so windy, Huffmaster said, that his students had to lay on the liner to keep it down while the gravel was placed on top of it.