Budding Gardeners Win Contest, Feed Hungry

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NEWFOUNDLAND -- Some tiny gardeners have won a big prize after growing a garden from seed to plant in Wayne County.

The Wallenpaupack Area South Elementary School students in Newfoundland have spent quite a bit of time in their garden. They picked ripe tomatoes and beans that came from tiny seeds which they started growing months ago in empty milk cartons.

“Then kindergarten transplanted it, then planted it somewhere,” said second grader Jaymison Ostrowski.

The K-5th graders were rewarded for all their hard work, winners of a nationwide contest called Carton 2 Garden, sponsored by the company that makes milk cartons. The goal: teach kids about gardening in ways that are eco-friendly.

“If they can learn those messages and continue the programs that would be ideal,” said Katie Simmons of Evergreen Packaging.

More than 200 students at the elementary school planted one seed into a carton. The plants in the garden have given off fruit and vegetables for the local food pantry and teachers call that real world learning.

“When you take the children outside the classroom there’s not restrictions. It’s open doors. They can think as they want and build and discover as they want,” said kindergarten teacher Lizabeth Conklin.

Teachers said the community pitched in, donating wood, soil, and fencing. The kids did the rest and wound up feeding dozens of families with home-grown fruits and veggies.

“To get fresh items like tomatoes and green beans and such, zucchini was such a blessing for them,” said Pastor Greg Schafer of the Newfoundland Moravian Church.

Students said learning to grow all this and give it to the less fortunate has been rewarding.

“When we gave food to the people who needed it, I thought it was nice and kind,” said fifth grader Francesca Toppi.

The school won more than $2,000 to keep growing its garden next year.

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