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Ricardo Richards Elementary School Students’ Garden Club Shows Motivated Children Have A Green Thumb

PROUD FARMERS: Students learn about agriculture and commerce first-hand at Ricardo Richards Elementary School where children are growing fresh produce and then selling it to the general community.

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CHRISTIANSTED — Ricardo Richards Elementary School (RRES) embarked on a garden project starting in the 2015-2016 school year.

Today, the project consists of 11 box gardens that boasts a variety of fresh, organic produce, including lettuce, egg plants, tomatoes, kale, bok choy (Chinese cabbage), cucumber, bell peppers, pigeon peas, papaya, yam, pineapple, celery, parsley, chives, cilantro, lemon grass, basil, mint and turmeric.

Gardening is done Monday through Thursday by a dedicated garden club of 60 members, ranging from grades second to sixth, according RRES Garden Club Advisor Claudia Eugene.

“Students, water, plant, weed and harvest when the need arises,” Eugene said. “A great deal of the produce has been handed over to the cafeteria staff to be incorporated and served as part of the school’s lunch menu.”

On March 22, the RRES Garden Club, along with a number of other St. Croix schools, participated in an Open House hosted by the Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the Virgin Islands Department of Education in observance of National Agriculture Week.

“There, a large amount of our garden produce was sold,” Eugene said. “Since students found this activity fun and educational, they are longing to participate in the Farmers’ Market at the La Reine Farmers Market very soon.”

Eugene extends special thanks to the people who helped the Ricardo Garden grown, as well as well as her students’ interest in agriculture:

Vanessa Forbes of the Cooperative Extension Unit of the University of the Virgin Islands; Frederick Miller, a parent local farmer who worked from the inception of the project; Grantley Samuel, owner of GLG Farms; Mr. Chitolle, who supplied soil; Mr. Schuster, who supplied manure; Velda Hendricks, St. Croix district director of agriculture; as well as parents, faculty and staff of the RRES family,  especially the Garden Committee and the young Ricardo Richards Garden Club members.

CASH FOR CABBAGE: Ricardo Richards Elementary School students learned first-hand which of the products they grew were in high demand and how the presentation of their crop affects sales.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 50 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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