Homer-Center students

HOMER-CENTER High School eighth-graders Braden Dunn and Brian Mills were hard at work in the school garden.

The gardening season is quickly approaching, and Homer-Center has its very own garden.

Located outside near the school track, the garden has been a developing project going on for about five years. Initiated by science teacher Bradley Adams, the garden is a way for students to get involved in producing home-grown food and learning about where fresh fruits and vegetables come from.

“It all started at my old school I taught at,” Adams said. “Students didn’t know the basics about where fresh foods come from, so I thought about getting them hands-on in a garden so they could learn about where foods come from, and they loved everything from planting in the garden to carrying boxes of food into the cafeteria.”

The food produced from the garden is distributed to different areas and impacts many people along with it. There is a bed of food that will be grown and the food will be donated to the school’s cafeteria, to be incorporated into school lunches and given to students. Another bed of vegetables will be grown and donated to the Indiana County Food Bank and from there it will be given to people in the community. Of course, if someone is walking by and sees a vegetable or fruit they want to have, they are more than welcome to pick it up.

“It’s all about giving back to the community,” Adams said. “We don’t sell anything grown, and if anyone needs anything they can come and grab it and they can have fresh fruit or vegetables.”

Students are heavily involved in the garden. Students go out and help build the beds, plant and water. They are involved in the entire production of the garden.

“I really want the students to get enthusiastic about their food,” Adams said. “I hope that once students get involved, they will learn how to run things by themselves and maybe whenever they settle into their own place they will consider creating a garden. They seem to really enjoy participating, whether that be planting, harvesting or carrying it to the cafeteria. They are definitely learning about food and that not everything comes from Walmart.”

The garden is entirely grant funded. Students have even written grants to help benefit the garden. Numerous grants have been received, such as “To Combat Community Hunger” and a grant from Waste Management. The grant money given has been used to create beds so the food has space to grow, and to purchase other items such as seeds and soil.

This year, new additions to the garden have been added, including expanding the garden and adding benches. More people are starting to get involved, which is helping the garden get bigger and better quicker and faster.

“We added benches so that students can come out and eat lunches during their lunch period if the weather is nice. We also take classes out there so they aren’t stuck between the four walls of a classroom all day long.”

The development of the garden is only going to be expanded in the future. With all the enthusiasm and hard work, the garden is going to grow and impact many people who need it.