Staff and students tend the vegetable garden at McManus Middle School, one of several gardens that have been blooming around our schools since the spring. The proceeds benefit the schools and the community. Back row, from left, are secretary Helen Koby, math teacher Christine Miskov, Vice Principal Wayne Happel, science teacher Patricia Klingert, and Principal Peter Fingerlin. In front are incoming sixth-graders Hunter DeGregorio and Adam Johnson, on July 24.

teacher and students in garden

Teacher Abelmonem Zeidan, center, with students Luis Alvarado and Francky Norzile on June 17 in the student garden at the Academy of Excellence alternative high school.

By Gary Miller

Staff and students at McManus Middle School in Linden were working on the school’s vegetable garden on Tuesday, July 24, picking vegetables, tending to plants and putting down mulch.

The garden is funded through a Union County “Kids Dig In” grant. It’s the second year the school has planted the garden, doubling from four beds to eight this year. They are growing kale, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, jalapeños, honeydew, cantaloupe and more.

The produce is donated to needy families at the school first, then to the county’s senior nutrition program at Linden’s John T. Gregorio Recreation Center and a food pantry run by the Linden Interfaith Network for Community Service (LINCS). The grant requires that 30 percent of the produce goes to charity.

“Kids Dig In” gardens are growing at several Linden Public Schools, including School No. 2, School No. 5, School No. 6, and the Academy of Excellence alternative high school.

A garden at School No. 4, in its third year, is funded through the New Jersey Agricultural Society’s Learning Through Gardening grant, which seeks to teach students to make healthier food choices and take better care of their environment, all while making learning more exciting.

teachers and students in garden

School No. 2 students and staff in their garden on June 20. From left are Madison Karamath, Zaire Fields, Ethan Torres, teacher Frank Minniti, Oscar Martinez, Mohmad Safe, Rania Khurram, Hannah Valverde, Emilie Sanon, teacher Agnieszka Halat, and Xavier Ligon.

teachers washing greens from garden

School No. 4 teachers washing lettuce that was harvested from the school’s garden for a salad bar party for students on June 20. From left are Maria Cioffi, Jamie Schrafft and Melissa Miceli.

before and after photos of garden

The garden at School No. 5 shortly after being planted in June, and in full bloom in August.

large gathering of students posing

Union County Freeholder Christopher Hudak, center, joined students and teachers at School No. 6 on June 14 when their garden was planted with the county’s “Kids Dig In” grant.