By ANYA WAKEFIELD

The Putnam Herald

BUFFALO - Students at the Buffalo Elementary School will now have the opportunity to test their "green thumbs" and learn about growing food after the official ribbon-cutting ceremony of the brand new greenhouse took place on school premises on Thursday, May 30.

"We are a rural community where gardening is very important," said Megan Hardin, a fourth-grade teacher at Buffalo Elementary and the project leader. "This is a great way to introduce it early."

Indeed, not only is a greenhouse a great educational tool that is beneficial for any school, but it also teaches about the nutritional value of home-grown produce and encourages kids to eat what they grow.

"We grew lettuce in the classroom, and the kids couldn't wait to try it. They really liked it and asked for seconds. I was amazed," Hardin said.

According to CDC data, the national average for regular produce consumption is 57.7 percent. This shows that almost half of the country's population isn't eating the recommended amount of vegetables on a daily basis. According to Hardin, once the garden is fully established, they are planning to have enough vegetables to use for the salad bar in the school cafeteria. The students will also plant pumpkins to enjoy them in the fall.

There are currently six raised beds inside the greenhouse, and a few that are set up outside. Each grade will have its own garden bed to take care of. The Future Farmers of America (FFA) students from Buffalo High School are also planning to visit to help introduce their younger counterparts to agriculture and share the experience.

To help realize this beneficial project, the school was awarded a $15,000 grant by the EnAct Community Action agency. Additional support was given by Toyota Manufacturing, Mountaineer Building Solutions, S&K Excavating, Marshall University Nutrition Program and WVSU Extension Service.

"We are very grateful to our community sponsors and our staff," said Hardin, noting that many of the school staff have been actively involved in this project from the beginning.

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