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Pepper Ridge Students Reap Rewards of Spring Planting

It’s that time of the year when farmers are starting to harvest their crops before the weather turns sour, but for a group of students at Pepper Ridge Elementary, this harvest is about more than vegetables, they're reaping fruit for the community and themselves.
BLOOMINGTON - It’s that time of the year when farmers are starting to harvest their crops before the weather turns sour, but for a group of students at Pepper Ridge Elementary, this harvest is about more than vegetables, they're reaping fruit for the community and themselves.

It's a race to get to the garden outside of Pepper Ridge Elementary School.

"It was cool to come back and see all the plants fully grown," said Justin Smith, a fifth grader.

Thanks to a partnership with the American Heart Association and Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, while their plants are growing, the students are learning.

"We arranged to get them the boxes and the seeds and that sort of thing to get it started, but then it's really up to the school to really take the initiative to manage the garden and make it work," said Carrie Skogsberg, communications director for the American Heart Association.

After months of watering, and tending to their vegetable gardens, the students are ending summer with a mass harvest of their fruits and veggies.

"I'm really excited because I never wanted to try all these different foods, but now that I'm doing this, I feel like I want to," said Abigail Logan, fifth grader.

The inaugural Garden Club at Pepper Ridge includes students from kindergarten through fifth grade. Students have been taking their produce and giving it out to families in need in the community. Plus, they've produced some plants they didn't even know were possible in the Midwest.

"And it was really funny because I would look at them, and we'd think they were baby watermelons, because they were so small, and it was really cool," said Logan.

Fresh off the excitement of their harvest, the students hope they can take this project outside of the classroom.

"I definitely want to try this at home or with my grandparents because they have a background in planting. So, that'd be really cool," said Logan.

And the students aren't quite done yet with their garden for the season. On Monday, they'll be planting some fall crops, like lettuce and spinach. 

The school hopes to keep the program going for many years.

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