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River Grove Elementary its holds second annual Harvest Day in school's garden

PMG PHOTO: CLAIRE HOLLEY - Kindergartener Emerson (Emmy) Romans examines a handful of worms she found in the soil.The sun was shining down on Sept. 6 for River Grove's second annual Harvest Day, as the elementary school students cycled through stations to learn about the school's garden and its many uses.

Parent volunteer (and former school board member) Sarah Howell greeted students in the garden and told them about what was in store. "Everything in this garden used to be just tiny seeds in the ground," Howell said. "Now we get to harvest and celebrate all of the delicious food that came from the garden."

First, students got to taste for themselves what can be created using crops in the garden thanks to Lauren Carr, a parent at River Grove and the owner of Artemis Foods, an organic and sustainable catering company in Portland that focuses on local ingredients. Carr used vegetables that were planted in River Grove's garden to create a variety of dishes for students to try. "I love getting kids involved in what they're eating," Carr said. "The students and teachers

planted the garden last spring, and I love showing them that what they planted can be turned into tasty snacks."PMG PHOTO: CLAIRE HOLLEY - Parent volunteer Sarah Howell tells Kerri Lees class of new kindergarteners about the River Grove garden.

Carr prepared vichyssoise, a chilled soup made with potatoes, leeks, onions and chives; a green bean salad with cherry tomatoes, shallots, garlic and basil; and zucchini muffins. Students were encouraged to try all three dishes, even if they didn't look like things they would normally eat. Many were surprised to find out that a muffin made with a vegetable could actually be quite tasty.

After chowing down, River Grove students had a chance to create art using vegetables as stamps, such as squash, carrots and corn.

The third station (and the favorite of many students) allowed them to get even more hands-on. Students headed over to Laurel Bates, the waste reduction education coordinator for Clackamas County, who spent the day at River Grove providing information about composting and the valuable role worms play in the ecosystem.

Some students loved the worms and dug in, trying to collect as many as they could, while others shied away from the wriggling animals.PMG PHOTO: CLAIRE HOLLEY - Laurel Bates helps students find worms in the soil and understand their role in composting.

"If they get too squirmy, that means they need to go back into the soil," Bates told students.

River Grove's garden was built in 2017 thanks to parent volunteers and a donation from Home Depot. Howell was involved in the creation of the garden back then — she called Home Depot, which donated about $3,000 in materials, including the wood for raised beds and more than 200 bags of soil. Two years later, River Grove's garden is thriving and provides an outdoor education for all of the school's students.


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