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Garden brings students, parents together

School will soon include homegrown produce in lunches
By: Eric Laughlin Telegraph correspondent
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A local school is hoping to bid farewell to the days when a school lunch wasn’t much more than a corn dog or a slab of pizza. In a special assembly Friday, Lakeview Elementary unveiled its newly finished community garden, which will soon produce everything from tomatoes to watermelon to supplement the cafeteria meal list. Administrators believe the interactive growing process will not only promote healthier eating choices, but also build self-confidence and resilience among students. “The kids will be able to see firsthand where wholesome foods come from,” said Lakeview principal Judy Chance. “We’re also hoping to show them the economics of a farmers market.” Chance said the garden was one of her first goals when joining the school five years ago. She said research from leading universities showed that students who participated in school garden programs significantly improved their attitudes toward fruit and vegetables. During her speech to students, parents and teachers, she thanked community sponsors of the garden that included Mercy Hospital of Folsom, the Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills and El Dorado Disposal. All made contributions toward equipment and supplies necessary to complete the project. “That’s why we have a garden that came to life in springtime,” Chance said of the sponsors. “I’m so grateful to you guys.” Jan Wilcox of Mercy Hospital was one of the outside community volunteers who worked closely with Chance. She said she believes the project will serve as a “wonderful living classroom” for the school. Following the assembly, students retreated to the garden to finish up planting and do some watering. Fourth-graders Maizy Jeong and Alexis Beck were part of the welcoming committee on-hand at the event. “The best part is how we all came together to finish it,” Beck said. “And we get to continue to be involved by watching it grow,” Jeong added. Parent Denise Hountalas has three boys and is confident the garden will enhance their perception of vegetables and the role they play in healthy living. “They’ll be able to experience real life by seeing something grow,” she said. “And I think it will change the way they look at tomatoes.” In addition to watermelon and tomatoes, produce from the garden will include cantaloupe, zucchini, pumpkin and carrots.