Corvallis High School students serve their friends fresh produce that they’ve grown

Corvallis High School students ate food Thursday that had been planted, tended and harvested by their peers in a garden on school grounds. The Sustainability and Society class picked the vegetables from the Spartan Garden and then served them to their classmates for free.

Candace Russo, the garden manager for the Healthy Youth Program, said its goal was “to get the food onto students’ plates and into their mouths. They spend a lot of time growing it.”

Vegetables in the Spartan Garden included corn, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and herbs.

Russo showed the students the most effective ways to pull the produce from the stem and passed along information about the varieties the students picked.

Once the students finished gathering the vegetables, they rinsed them under garden spigots and carried them in baskets to the school cafeteria, where other students relished the fresh-picked harvest.

Corvallis High School senior Alyssa Rolen, 17, said she enjoyed being in the class of 20 students who tended the garden.

“In our class we do a bunch of projects,” Rolen said. “Corvallis is really green anyway, and I want to be part of that.”

Rolen said she saw the garden grow from the time it was planted in the spring and watched its progress as she trained for track season on the adjacent track.

Rolen’s favorite vegetable was the tomatillo — a staple in Mexican cooking that looks likes a larger, husk-covered green cousin of a cherry tomato.

“They look like little lanterns. They feel empty, and the tomatoes grow inside,” she said.

The garden is sponsored by the Healthy Youth Program in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and is funded through donations. The Healthy Youth Program conducts outreach and provides public education for living healthy lifestyles.

The program also oversees other projects around the community, such as Chefs in the Garden. Members of that group, along with horticulture students at the high school, helped to plant the vegetables in the Spartan Garden and tend them throughout the summer.

Julie Williams has taught the class for five years and said this year’s group was especially engaged.

“They’re amazing,” Williams said. “They’re struggling and chewing on stuff better than adults in their world.”

Joce DeWitt can be contacted at 758-9510 or joce.dewitt@lee.net.

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