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MMS Garden feeds students’ souls and bodies

While many kids are spending their summer afternoons swimming or playing sports, some Millbrook Middle School students are helping to make its garden beautiful and bountiful.

The goal of the garden, which started as part of MMS’ Wellness Program, is to engage and excite students about where their food comes from, how to grow it and enjoy the nutritional benefits from freshly grown produce. Family & Consumer Science Teacher Eilis Petrosino has worked throughout the school year to get it going with the desire of running a community-supported agriculture program. 

The six MMS students working in the garden this summer are part of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Dutchess County Blooming 4-H Club where they engage and take pride in community service activities. On July 12, they poured a soil/compost mixture, donated by Millbrook Gardens, into plant beds and planted peppers, zucchini and basil in empty ones.

“They use creative and physical skill and take pride in their work,” 4-H Program Leader Jane Rodd. “This gives them confidence and helps them believe they can accomplish anything they set their sights on.” 

As the produce ripens, 4-H families will harvest them and the Garden Club and Petrosino’s class will process it when school starts again. There are plans for future celebrations together, including having students potentially cook a meal for the community.

“This is so much more than just a school garden,” Rodd said. “It is a project that is uniting the community.”

For 6th grader Grace Johnson, gardening is a relaxing activity with many benefits.

“I really like the reward of gardening because then you can eat whatever it has,” Johnson said. “It’s really fresh, instead of store bought stuff.”

Sixth grader Pim Glasson had so much fun working in the garden during the school year that she decided to continue over the summer. She enjoys seeing plants go from seed to sprout.

“I mostly enjoy planting and watching plants grow,” Glasson said. “It’s pretty relaxing.”