When I heard Patrick and Nolan talking about it, I said ‘Hey, my kids want to do that, can I be in on this?’ And they said ‘Yes, it’s yours. We know nothing about gardens. We planted the last day in April. The kids got to do all of the planning, planting, and harvesting..Kelsey Hall, BCUB coordinator
Barton County Upward Bound (BCUB) harvested 3,267 vegetables through the first season of its community garden. The project began with BCUB’s student-run leadership committee which allows students to generate ideas for activities and events for the year.
The students decided a community garden could create something that would have a positive long-term effect. BCUB Academic Coordinator Kelsey Hall overheard her coworkers Patrick Bush and Nolan Esfeld discussing the campus food pantry, and the lack of fresh produce. Hall then heard them mention the idea of starting a garden.
“When I heard Patrick and Nolan talking about it, I said ‘Hey, my kids want to do that, can I be in on this?’ And they said ‘Yes, it’s yours. We know nothing about gardens,’” she said. “We planted the last day in April. The kids got to do all of the planning, planting, and harvesting.”
When the vegetables began to flourish, many students were on summer vacation, so they offered the fresh produce to the staff and used the fresh pickings for their Sunday night cooking class.
“They have taken the zucchini out of the garden and made fried zucchini and zucchini boats. We had a huge lettuce harvest, so we did lettuce wraps and a wilted lettuce salad,” Hall said. “They took something they planted, grew and harvested, and then cooked it.”
Jakob Breit, a Senior at Hoisington High School, is one of the students on the Barton County Upward Bound Leadership Committee who fell in love with the community garden idea.
“It was cool to be a part of,” he said.
Hall said it’s important to note the idea came from the students.
“Our kids asked for this; our kids wanted it, this was their brainchild,” she said. “It was not so much ‘here, go do this.’”
Allowing the student leadership committee to generate ideas is something Breit has enjoyed about his time on the leadership committee.
“It is fun,” he said. “They come to us, and we get to help plan and give them ideas for the year.”
Breit plans to attend Barton once he graduates then continue his career in farming, in which he already has a head start.
Hall and her coworkers have a similar goal for the garden in the fall semester.
“We just recently overhauled the garden for the fall. The only crop left from the summer is the cucumbers,” Hall said. “We removed everything else and have planted ornamental corn, gourds and pumpkins.”