Growing Food for Local Families at Community Garden

After careful planting and a summer of growth comes the harvest. The bounty from this garden – the Kelloggsville Community Garden— was recently donated to a food bank called The Family Network of Wyoming. Onions, tomatoes and peppers are ready to go to local families.

In late spring third-graders pushed wheelbarrows to classmates who prepared soil for leafy green plants and learned about plant science. Preschoolers planted pumpkins, middle schoolers experimented with climate change, and high schoolers earned volunteer hours at the 29-raised bed garden.  Cabbage is just one of the many veggies grown in the Kelloggsville Community GardenThe garden is located at the former Kelloggsville Early Childhood Center, 977 44th St. SW, now Kelloggsville Regional Center.

West Kelloggsville Elementary School student Rhea Marasigan enjoyed getting her hands dirty. “You get to see how plants grow, how their life cycles are and how to grow your own garden if you have one at home,” she said.

A Sustainable Project

Mike Zurgable, Kelloggsville Public Schools occupational therapist, said the garden has created a circle of involvement and sustainability. In its third year, the garden has grown from a simple plat to 14 beds and now to 29.  All produce goes to the food pantry, which serves local families, including some in Sunflowers bloom in the center of the Kelloggsville Community Gardenthe Kelloggsville district.

The garden was funded by a three-year federal service learning grant, coordinated by Kent ISD, and several other grants. The organization recently received another $5,000 learning grant to continue.  In total, the project has been the beneficiary of about $15,000 in cash grants. A grant from the Muhammad Ali Peace Foundation paid for a peace pole centered in the garden inscribed with “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in the four most common languages spoken. Lowe’s Toolbox for Education provided a $3,000 grant.

Students at every grade level participate in cultivating or maintaining the garden.  “It has a broad base of support from preschool through high school,” Zurgable said.

A fruitful garden

The year’s foliage and produce included annual flowers, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, corn, cabbage and onions. The master plan includes a Kelloggsville rocket logo made of annual flowers, a pollinator garden with raspberry patch, and a vine area.

Gary Lemke, executive director of Family Network of Wyoming said fresh produce from a variety of sources, including the garden, makes up 30 to 40 percent of the food the organization provides for up to 100 local families weekly.

“We actually enjoy it very much. It’s just one more piece of the puzzle to feed the people here,” he said.Produce is bagged andready for delivery

Lynnea Roon, math teacher and science specialist involved with the garden since the beginning, said the garden provides a new experience for many students in the urban district who are very excited to become farmers for the day.

“A lot of kids never get to do this,” she said, while leading students in a planting session.   “They don’t have gardens because they live in the city.”

Connect: Family NOW

Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2012. Read Erin's full bio

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