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Hands-On Nutrition at Beckley-Stratton Middle School

Beckley-Stratton Middle School
Beckley, WV

Beckley-Stratton Middle School in Beckley, West Virginia is using its school garden as a hands-on learning opportunity. Thanks to Spanish teacher Vickie Webb, and a Game On grant from Action for Healthy Kids funded by CSX, the school garden teaches students not only about nutrition but also math, science, writing and other subjects.

Last year, students produced tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peppers, corn, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, mint and herbs. Once there is enough of a certain type of vegetable or herb, the produce is sold to the Office of Child Nutrition and the money is returned to fund the garden. According to Vickie, “Having freshly grown produce really makes a difference. The kids are more encouraged to eat it when they had a hand in helping grow it.”

Students also helped build the garden area, including brightly painted tires filled with flowers, a tall white archway, wooden and cinderblock benches, along with several picnic tables the students use as an outdoor classroom. Vickie says, “I use the garden to teach my students the Spanish vocabulary associated with gardening. You can add garden curriculum to any subject.”

Vickie also obtained funding and donations from local resources for the garden. For example, tires were donated by the local solid waste authority and a compost bin was donated by the special education department. She also stretched her dollars by purchasing items, such as rain barrels and compost bags, from local businesses.

Vickie’s not done improving the garden – her next project is creating a high tunnel so vegetables can continue growing through November. Her efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. West Virginia University extension recently contacted her about establishing a community garden, and the Beckley Mayor signed a proclamation making April 16 “Childhood Obesity Awareness Day.”