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A Project Learning Garden for North Windy Ridge
A Project Learning Garden for North Windy Ridge
Posted on 04/02/2019
Intermediate students received a new garden thanks to Ingles Markets, the Captain Planet Foundation, and Dole Packaged Foods.By: Benjamin Rickert, Communications Dept.

School is the perfect place for kids to get their hands dirty! This morning, students at North Windy Ridge Intermediate placed planting beds, carried soil, dug holes, and planted seeds thanks to a Project Learning Garden grant through the Captain Planet Foundation, Dole Packaged Foods, and Ingles Markets. The newly-installed garden will soon be bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables including lettuce, squash, strawberries, pumpkins, and greens. It will be a place that brings classroom lessons to life while teaching about food production and nutrition.

Students carry raised planting beds to their new garden space.“Ten-year-olds need to move — to get hands-on, outside, and in the dirt,” said fifth grade math and science teacher Ms. Marilynn Whitcher. “It gives them curiosity and excitement, which brings math and science to life!”

Whitcher has long known the value of supporting academics through nature, and has sponsored the school’s gardening club for the past seven years. Her efforts with the grant helped North Windy Ridge become the second Buncombe County school to receive a new Project Learning Garden; Emma Elementary School received their garden last year. As explained in an Ingles press release, the students received a fully functional garden with five raised beds, soil and seedlings, lesson kits and supplies, a garden cooking cart, and tips for summer garden maintenance.

“The garden has been totally redone,” Whitcher added. “And there are so many manipulatives and tools to use for other lessons we teach.”

“The goal of Project Learning Garden is to provide an instructional space on the school grounds that lets kids take ideas out of the classroom and put them to work in the natural world so they understand how things work in practical terms,” said Captain Planet Foundation President and CEO Leesa Carter-Jones. “It’s a great space for learning math concepts, for doing creative writing, for inspiration, and for science. So, what we do is work with the teachers to help them understand the instructional and nutritional value of the space.”

As students worked in groups to carry the raised beds and bags of soil, they were assisted by school staff and grant representatives. Students were instructed in the proper placement and spacing of seeds, and they concluded by watering the soil. Carter-Jones recalled a humorous comment made by a young man as he stepped back and admired his work.

“Well, we started with a completely empty bed, and now we have a slightly less empty bed,” the student jested.

Carter-Jones laughed and said she couldn’t wait for him to see all of the fresh produce growing later this spring and into the fall.

Dole Packaged Foods Director of Communications Marty Ordman talks with students about gardening.Dole Packaged Foods Director of Communications Marty Ordman travelled all the way from Los Angeles to help the students install their garden and had plenty of dirt on his own hands afterwards. He hopes that the new space will inspire students to try foods they might otherwise push away at the dinner table.

“When they grow it, nurture it, and then harvest it, then they love to try it.” said Ordman. “It’s a great way to expose kids to foods.”

Ingles Special Events Manager Timothy Barrett added that schoolyard gardens teach students about how food is sourced.

“It doesn’t just magically appear on your Ingles’ shelf,” he joked. “This is a great way to integrate a lot of concepts and skills with gardening, such as math, science, art, and even physical education… It’s really just an all-around great experience about food.”

Ms. Whitcher looked forward to all of the experiences the new garden will provide for her school.

“I’m so appreciative that there are partnerships in our community that offer this to teachers and children,” she said. “It takes a village.”

Learn more about applying for a Project Learning Garden grant.

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Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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