More than three dozen kids enrolled at Bethlehem Preschool at Bethlehem United Methodist Church in Moneta have been getting their hands dirty as they recently planted vegetables in raised beds installed by members of Moneta Garden Club.
The preschoolers planted lettuce plants, donated by Moneta Farm and Home Center, as well as carrots, radishes and Swiss chard, according to Karen DeBord, a garden club member, who also serves on the preschool’s board.
The project kicked off earlier this year after the club was awarded a community youth grant of just over $900 from the Virginia Federation of Garden Clubs. Garden club members, including DeBord, Jack Phillips and Denise and Gif Swayne, installed the four raised beds in February.
“It was a snowy day the day that the beds were installed,” DeBord recalled. “The children shoveled snow on the newspapers used to deter weeds until the soil could be brought in.”
Club members pitched in to spread compost and soil into the beds and installed a rain barrel that will be used for watering the plants. The preschoolers planted their vegetables, “in hopes of growing a ‘salad’ by the end of May when they dismiss for the summer,” DeBord said.
While they’re in summer recess, garden club members will tend to the beds and will share leftover vegetables with Lake Christian Ministries.
“This is truly a community project with the partners of the Moneta Garden Club, Bethlehem United Methodist Church, Bethlehem Preschool, Moneta Farm Supply, Nichols Sawmill, Master Gardeners and Lake Christian Ministries,” DeBord added.
Garden club members are hoping an additional Ames Tools grant will help cover the purchase of child-sized gardening tools and wheelbarrows, DeBord said.