MLK Day garden project in Warrenton accomplishes several goals

Jan. 21, 2013 @ 07:44 PM

Students, teachers and volunteers spent Martin Luther King Jr. Day working in the Warren County High School garden.

It was a day of service with multiple goals.

Caroline Stover, a member of FoodCorps, coordinated the project. She pointed out the mixture of people gathered to work on the garden, including teachers and students from Warren County schools, adult volunteers from the community and representatives of local organizations and groups from other parts of the state.

Students went back and forth through the garden, weeding, laying brick, planting seeds and cleaning up.

Travis Packer, a teacher at Warren County New Tech High School, was there with 10 of his students.

“It’s good that they’re out here on a Monday when they don’t have to be,” Packer said.

One of his students, Wyatt Collius, said he had laid brick, painted brick and cleaned up.

Javan Cross, college advisor for juniors and seniors at all of the county high schools, wielded a rake along with the students.

Ashleigh Kearney, a senior at Warren County High School, planted broccoli seeds in small containers, which will placed in the greenhouse until they are ready to be set out.

Helping her was Carla Capacetti, a volunteer from Durham. She said it takes about 14 days for the seeds to germinate and a couple of months before the plants are ready to be harvested.

Job Corps member Dontrice Brunson helped cover beds of vegetables to protect them from frost. He said, “I’m doing this to give back to the community,” and added as an afterthought, “and learn how to build a garden.”

He has been with the Kittrell Job Corps for two weeks. His goals are to get a high school diploma, a driver’s license and become trained as a home health aide.

Joan Robinson, business community liaison at the Kittrell center, said the activity was valuable for students like Dontrice.

“Work-based learning allows students to utilize skills they learned in the classroom,” Robinson said.

June Wollett, a paramedic from Halifax County, was there as a community volunteer. Jesalyn Keziah came from the Center for Environmental Farming in Carrboro. Lydia Atkins promotes nutrition education for children in seven elementary schools in Moore County.

They came to show their support for the garden project, and also to learn from it.

Kelsey Parry, a teacher at Warren County Early College High School, and Star Stovall, a freshman at New Tech High, cleared weeds and roots from one of the garden beds, preparing it for planting. Their hands were dirty but they didn’t seem to mind.

“I love to garden,” Stovall said.

FoodWorks Cafe and Bakery of Warrenton provided snacks and a meal for the workers.

FoodCorps is a national organization designed to help young people get a better understanding of where food comes from and how nutritional food contributes to their well-being. The organization promotes nutrition education in the classroom and engages students in projects such as the garden project.

But it is more than gaining knowledge about gardening and nutrition. As Atkins said, “When a student plants it, cares for it and harvests is, she owns it. She has a relationship to it.”

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.