By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
BELMONT — Since the Food and Drug Administration encourages students of all ages to eat some red and orange vegetables daily, high school Food Service Manager Nancy Cate decided the school should grow its own.
Last year, she started with raised beds in which she, along with the help of the special education students, grew tomatoes and lettuce. This year, they added three more raised beds and are growing two kinds of squash, pole beans, cherry tomatoes, two kinds of slicing tomatoes, kale, green lettuce, cucumbers and zucchini.
"Well, I guess I'm going to pay to eat at the high school salad bar next year," said Principal David Williams.
Williams said he is very excited about the garden and supports expanding it to add potentially four to six more raised beds.
He said this project and others like it help students get closer to the source of their food and educates them as to how easy or difficult it can be, depending on circumstances they can't control, like the weather.
Audra O'Connor runs the transition program as a life skills coordinator for the special education program, whose students do most of the weeding and tending to the garden.
As they picked their beds and carefully removed the weeds, O'Connor explained how important it is to have these students doing work that improves their life skills.
"Anytime you can get kids to use real world skills and skills that can transfer to the rest of their lives is a good thing," said Williams.
"This is promoting healthy choices and the students can get this food right in the cafeteria," he said.
Belmont High School Principal David Williams (in black shirt) speaks with food service manager Nancy Cate (in pink) while transition coordinator Audra O'Connor (in blue) shows her students how to properly weed a vegetable garden. (Gail Ober/Laconia Daily Sun)