Source: NorthFulton.com

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Forsyth County students grow fresh veggies, fruits
Cumming Elementary’s garden feeds families in need

by Shauyan Saki

May 20, 2013

Jordan Mooney carrying a load of mulch.
Charlie Keyser at Cumming Elementary’s germinating system.
Laurel Daniel, left, and Emily Lundstrum, right, pick sugar snap peas from their raised bed.
CUMMING, Ga. — Cumming Elementary School students have been hard at work, but not all of their hard work has been in a classroom.

Fifty-five students have been gardening through their sustainable gardening program, which started three years ago and consists of third, fourth and fifth grades.

The students are inheriting a love for gardening from program coordinator Anna Doll.

"I have gardened all my life and I've wanted to try to start this program so that other students would learn the love of gardening like I did," Doll said.

Doll, a teacher at Cumming Elementary school, said the school has 32 raised gardening beds that are adopted by classrooms that are involved in the growth and maintenance of vegetables from seeds to table.

The gardening beds supply fruit and vegetables year-round, and the produce is available for families on a needs basis. Families who do not have access to a garden are welcome to use the gardening beds over the summer.

Doll said the garden is completely organic, and all plants are started from seeds or root stock.

Doll's experience in gardening comes in handy. She is a Forsyth County Master Gardener, a volunteer program to advise and educate the public on gardening. Her experience was key to setting up the program.

"I went through a very intensive program of learning about the many aspects of gardening," said Doll. "Once I got the certification, it was easy to get approval from the principal at Cumming Elementary."

The program was small at first with only two raised beds, but with Doll's direction, the program continued to blossom. Including Doll, the school has four master gardeners that assist the students in the program.

The program has also encouraged students to make better lifestyle choices in terms of eating habits.

Cumming Elementary also participates in the Chefs Move to Schools program, which brings a chef to the school to cook for the students using the vegetables from their gardens. The Chefs Move to Schools program surprised many of the teachers at the school.

"You had students going back for seconds for mashed turnips from our garden," Doll said.