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Garden at Hays Porter Elementary growing seeds and minds

West End school garden
Posted at 8:04 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-14 13:22:37-04

CINCINNATI — At Hays Porter Elementary in the West End, students are learning to sow seeds for harvest while planting seeds for their own future.

Students at the school are learning how to reap what they sow, preparing their fresh produce for a weekend farmer's market. The money they raise at the market will go back into the garden.

The garden, started in in 2019 by a neighborhood resident Lizzy Chirlin, stayed plentiful even throughout COVID. Now they are teaming up with My Why, a group that got involved in August to help them plant and harvest in a push to end the food desert in the area.

"We're going to bring in next year, it's called a freight farm, and it is a hydroponic growing machine that can turn over thousands of heads of lettuce and beets and carrots and other items that we can grow in this big shipping container that will help us have a yield, have a harvest for the community, every 30 to 45 days," said Mary Beth Riesenberg Knight, director of My Why.

The hope is that, while teaching the students, the access to fresh produce can put an end to the food desert plaguing the West End.

"We are putting the power in their hands," said Riesenberg. "This is a community coming together to bring the driving force, so it has solved its problem of lack of healthy food for the rest of their lives and the next generation as well."

Riesenberg said they're hoping to teach CPS students life lessons through the garden as well, to broaden their horizons if any students are interested in food science or agriculture jobs.