Statham Elementary School has combined fitness and food for “a taste of Statham” that shows off the school’s gardens.

Statham has developed the gardens over three or four years and the “taste” project is a community event that involves all the school’s students. The kindergarten to second-graders visit in the morning and the third- through fifth-graders go in the afternoon.

The school has created a “summer garden club” that keeps the garden going when the students are not there. Diana Cole told visitors from the Georgia Organics Conference the “club” visits the school once a week for an hour and weeds and plants. Last summer, the gardens produced corn, beans and squash,

Cole said the school’s fourth-graders “have grown up with the garden.” Produce is routinely used in lunches for the schools.

The school is participating in a national pilot project that will establish elementary school standards for agriculture classes. Statham is one of 26 schools in Georgia that are participating.

The concept of a garden has spread to Wimberly’s Roots, a program for providing fresh produce at the Wimberly Center.

Ty Brooks, the manager for the garden and volunteer coordinator, said the community farm was expanded to three fields in 2019 and the harvest was just more than 5,400 pounds.

The Winder Housing Authority got an award in 2016, “local foods, local places,” and it became one of 27 communities nationally to get technical assistance to integrate local good into community development plans.

Wimberly’s Roots is a garden and kitchen. The garden provides nutritious food to the surrounding community.

Brooks told the visitors recently the Housing Authority plans to build a senior center for housing on the Wimberly property. It will have 73 units for low-income people he said and is expected to break ground this summer.

The garden includes a community farm space (where that harvest came from), a teaching garden and fruit trees.

The center plans a “farmer procurement forum” Feb. 22 and its second “seed swap” March 21. Brooks said “excess, unused and unwanted seed – out of date or partially used seed packets” are welcome. The procurement forum will be from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and the seed swap will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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