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School garden will produce lots of benefits

This outdoor learning area is still growing

Butler Elementary School in Fort Dodge has been closed since March, but there is an outdoor classroom on the grounds that is still in use.

It consists of four raised planting beds. Strawberries, cantaloupes, lettuce and kale are growing in them. The plants will be growing throughout the summer and into the early fall. And because they will be growing, opportunities for hands-on learning are being created. Throughout the growing season, Butler Elementary School students and their families will be needed to water the plants, pull any weeds that turn up and, eventually, pick the fruit.

The gardening program is made possible by a grant from the Webster County Public Health Department.

It dovetails nicely with the Pick a Better Snack Project of the United States Department of Agriculture, which seeks to bring fruits and vegetables into the classrooms of kindergartners through third-graders.

Maintaining the school’s garden has demonstrated benefits for the students, according to the experts. Those benefits include improved academic achievement, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, better student behavior and enhanced psychological development of young people.

All of those are worthwhile goals. And working at those four planting beds just might instill a lifelong love of gardening in some children.

We see nothing but benefits to having this garden at the school. We think it is worth at least considering the expansion of this program to other schools.

That is a decision for the future, however. For now we would just like to say thank you to the people at the Webster County Public Health Department and the Fort Dodge Community School District who have made this possible.

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