Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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April 4, 2014

Students celebrate ribbon cutting for the ‘Where the WILDcats Grow Garden’

SPANISHBURG — It was too wet to plow in Spanishburg Friday afternoon, but that didn’t stop the Spanishburg Elementary School student body from celebrating a groundbreaking ceremony in the SES gym.

“We love to discover new things and to learn,” Melissa Boothe, SES principal, said. “We won’t get to see the tractor plow the garden,” she said, but still, she noted that the students will learn how to make their own food and enjoy eating healthy foods produced from the “Where the WILDcats Grow Garden.”

“When I grow up, I want to be a farmer,” Pam Reid said. Reid is the director of child nutrition for Mercer County Schools. She explained to the students attending the groundbreaking assembly that farming is good for the environment, produces healthy foods, helps people become self-reliant and self-sufficient, “and best of all, the food I grow tastes a whole lot better,” she said.

Boothe said that the RESA 1 “Farm to Schools” program provided buckets, kneeling pads and gardening tools for each class in the school. Heather Copen, an AmeriCorps volunteer with RESA 1, who is the “Farm to Schools” representative at SES spoke briefly about her involvement in the project.

“I’m so excited to be part of your new garden,” Copen said. “It’s good for your health and good for your brain. We hope you’ll plant a little tomato seed and watch it grow.”

Dr. Nancy Burton, of Concord University, thanked the Spanishburg students, and said the partnership with the school in the garden project, “has been an opportunity for us in many ways.” CU students have been working with the SES students every Tuesday afternoon. “This project has been a win-win project for us,” Burton said. She also presented a rhododendron plant courtesy of Cole Nursery to the school for the garden.

Stefphanie Halstead, president of the Spanishburg Parent Teacher Organization applauded the students for their effort. “I live on a farm and I know how hard the work is that goes into it. Let’s appreciate the opportunity. Let’s show them what Spanishburg is made of ... Workers,” she said. The Halstead family raises beef cattle on a 150-acre farm on Flat Top.

Riley Bowling, a third-grade student at Spanishburg welcomed the group to the school, and Samantha Clark, a student at Concord thanked the students for welcoming her and her fellow students.

“You know how much you can learn from gardening,” Rick Ball, of the Mercer County Schools central office, said. “Your teachers nurture you every year. They want you to grow into productive, literate citizens of the world.”

Boothe explained that the garden will be plowed after testing is completed next week.

— Contact Bill Archer at

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