Tractor Supply, Strode Station team up to plant school garden

Published 12:26 pm Monday, April 30, 2018

In the fall, Strode Station Elementary School students will help plant tomatoes, lettuce, squash and more.

The Winchester Tractor Supply store is supporting Strode Station Elementary School in cultivating a school garden that will provide students with a hands-on learning experience.

Rachel Howard, manager of the Winchester Tractor Supply store, said Tractor Supply is giving Strode Station the resources and assistance to help get the garden started.

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“The School Garden Program provides kids with an opportunity to use their hands and minds in a way that’s not typically available in a traditional classroom setting,” said Rachel Howard, manager of the Winchester Tractor Supply store, said in a statement. “We’re hopeful that this garden will not only give students at Strode Station Elementary School a better understanding of where their food comes from but will also encourage them to continue exploring how the world around them works.”

Tractor Supply will provide Strode Station Elementary School with a starter kit that will help in the establishment of the garden, according to a release.

The project will officially start next year, but teachers are planning to volunteer in the summer to make sure it is ready by fall, Christian Holladay, an art teacher at Strode Station, said.

Holladay and Carrie Konstantopoulos, a second-grade teacher at Strode, have been talking about starting a school garden for almost two years.

“We both have gardens at our house,” Holladay said. “Hers is a mini farm. And mine’s just like a backyard situation. So we’ve been talking about it just on our own for a long time and then she had mentioned that she would like at some point to do a school garden I said I was completely on board with helping out.”

Holladay said funding was a concern, and they had looked into grants, but the timing didn’t work out, but the pieces finally fell into place when Tractor Supply reached out.

Holladay said the plan is to build three raised beds, one for kindergarten, one for first/second and one for third/fourth.

“The hope is that each sort of level of kids has one and then the responsibilities will rotate within the classes at those grade levels,” he said.

Holladay said there would be tons of opportunities to blend the school garden into the curriculum, and cafeteria workers will be able to use the vegetables grown in the garden for food.

In the next few weeks, Holladay said he hopes to get the dirt and lumber and get the ball rolling.

Howard said she hopes to partner with other schools in the district in the future. She said the goal is to raise awareness about the importance of the gardening as well as teaching children that food doesn’t just come from the grocery store.

Holladay agreed. He said especially, in an agriculturally vibrant community, it’s essential for students to start learning where food comes from, and perhaps, inspire them to go home and plant and eat more vegetables. If kids grow vegetables, they’re more likely to eat them, according to a Cornell study.

“There’s still probably plenty of kids that have never seen a growing tomato,” he said.

Holladay said he hopes the garden will stay around long term.

“I’m looking forward to getting it up and running and giving the kids access to something new here to do at school and something new to learn and hopefully some new experiences that they can carry on with them when they leave Strode,” he said.

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0015.

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