NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — More than 150 volunteers from around the community gathered at J.E. Manch andZel and Mary Lowman Elementary Schools May 12 with one common goal; build a garden for students and their families to sustain healthy relationships and diets.
The garden project is part of a larger program, “Pathway from Poverty,” focusing on creating safer and cleaner areas around the base and its surrounding communities.
“It just shows the power of what a community can do when working with others,” said Maj. Saunya Bright, Air Combat Command nutrition consultant. “Coming together to build this garden shows that we are actively involved with the community to make it a better place for everyone.”
Students from both elementary schools will all play a role in producing, maintaining and selling the grown products. They will primarily be growing tomatoes, grapes, basil, rosemary and cilantro among other fruits and vegetables.
The garden will also serve as an outdoor classroom for students to learn about gardening and nutrition, with each grade serving a unique role.
Pre-K will learn about plants and how to care for them; second graders will be bug monitors and are tasked with keeping the plants clean; fourth graders will learn to cook with the ingredients; and fifth graders will learn about business by setting up a farmer’s market to sell the fruits and vegetables.
Marilyn Kirkpatrick, Clark County commissioner, believes the students are going to take care of the garden because they will have a sense of ownership.
“This project is a positive activity that is not only helping improve the aesthetics of the school, but is also educating students on how to grow their own food and promote healthy food practices,” said Bright.
Anyone at Nellis or in the community who is interested in fresh fruit or vegetables is welcome to either purchase them or trade volunteer hours for products in return, said Kirkpatrick. The money earned by students will be recycled back in to the garden fund for seeds and soil, and a portion will also be used for field trips and nutrition education.
Kirkpatrick said the garden is great for Nellis families as well because there is no grocery store nearby, and they can come pick up fruits and vegetables after work if the commissary is closed.
“It’s great to see people come out and partner with the base,” said Kirkpatrick. “This is a start to changing the neighborhood into a safer place that anyone can be a part of.”