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Gardens on Green teaches 'miracles'
School program educates children on nature, nutrition
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Mount Vernon Exploratory School second-graders learn about soil Tuesday morning from Hall County Master Gardener Danny Askew during a visit to Gardens on Green.

Taylor Parker held up a small speck of black and squealed.

“Ooo! A seed!

She whipped around and showed her piece of watermelon to her friend, Abby Carmichael, 7, who was just as excited to see the bitty kernel nestled in the fruit.

The two Mount Vernon Elementary second-graders were part of Tuesday’s life cycle program at Gardens on Green, a group of gardens maintained by Hall County Master Gardeners and used for educational programs.

The two girls had obviously taken to their lesson about life cycles, as they sat for several minutes discussing how seeds grow into fruit and which fruit is best.

“I don’t like all vegetables, but I like all fruits, except coconuts,” said Taylor, 8.

“Have you ever even had a coconut?” Abby said. “How do you know you don’t like it?”

And so the conversation continued, with another friend, Lizzy Eades, 7, chiming in, saying she liked watermelon because “it’s crunchy and sweet.”

These reactions are exactly what the founders of Gardens on Green desired when they transformed the green space next to the Hall County Schools central office into an educational garden. Every Tuesday, an eager crowd of second-graders come to learn about how things grow, and they’re having fun while they do it.

“I like gardens because they’re pretty, and I like planting and having fun,” said Austin Brown, 7.

Kathy Lovett, a Hall County Master Gardener who created the garden with her husband, Lee, who serves as the county’s deputy superintendent, was on hand Tuesday to witness the activities.

“Something good is happening here,” she said. “There’s a saying that if you want to teach children about miracles, take them to a garden.”

Surrounding her, about 60 second-graders buzzed through the gardens, stopping at one of five different learning centers, each of which teach the students about a different component of life cycles.

One center showed composting, another the vegetable garden, another the butterfly garden, another the native and conifer garden, and, finally, the nutrition center, where students learn the value of eating food that grows from the ground.

Trae Cown, nutrition coordinator for Hall County Schools, mans the nutrition station. There students sample what they picked from the garden.

“It’s important to know where your food is grown,” he said. “I specifically discuss the nutrients and the fact that we eat plants, because a lot of kids don’t know where food comes from.”

About 20 regional elementary schools will participate in the life cycle program this school year.