Kingsbury High students learn gardening skills over summer break

Kingsbury High students learn gardening skills over summer break
Students are putting their skills to the test. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Students are putting their skills to the test. (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It is summer break, but Kingsbury High School students are still learning.

Real Food Lab, a garden program at the school, has been around since 2013, but this is the first year students are showing up in the summer and getting paid.

It is a Shelby County Schools collaborative project with community partners like the UT Health Science Center, Wolf River Conservancy, Memphis Area Master Gardeners, and Clean Memphis.

"The students are working 6-8 hours week at $10 per hour which will be a stipend at the end of the summer so they'll get one check," said garden coordinator and Kingsbury High teacher James Ritter.

Kimberly Rodriguez is a rising junior who is fertilizing her gardening skills.

"We are learning something that we didn't learn in school and it's an opportunity that we're growing something on our own," said Rodriguez. "I'm doing it at home and it's kind of amazing. I'm growing my own tomatoes."

Ritter travels 50 miles daily from Arkansas to guide students on their gardening journey.

"The main focus has been on social responsibility, entrepreneurship and some gardening skills," he said.

Students are growing a mix of fresh produce like kale, okra, green beans and variety of plants.

The student gardeners are also cultivating knowledge about finance, marketing, and the benefits of gardening on their physical and mental health.

Rodriguez said she is excited to share what she is learning with others.

"We can pass it on to the other freshman, the ones that are coming in next year, so that's cool," she said.

This year the program did not get approval to sell their harvest but students will host a farmers market on July 28 where they plan to giveaway their plants and produce to friends, family and teachers.

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