Planting the seeds of education


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Courtesy Photo Students who learned about herbs with Sowards.

Courtesy Photo
Students participating in a project at the CAO Head Start

By Joseph Pratt

[email protected]

Two organizations with the Community Action Organization (CAO) Head Start, composed completely of parent volunteers, known as the Learning Ladies and Meaningful Men, have come together to teach the children of the school about planting and growing their own food.

The school has embraced this summer project and has also accepted the help of Kate Sowards of the Scioto Soil and Water Conservation and Lisa Kepler of the Ohio State University Extension office.

The students are already weeks into learning about planting food and what it takes to grow and keep it alive. Sowards recently made a trip to assist in the addition of an herb garden, which was eagerly accepted by the young gardeners.

“First of all, we think the program the school has going is phenomenal,” Sowards said. “It is all parent led and they are very thoughtful to make sure every kid has something to do. I really enjoyed helping and watching them work. I’d gladly return any time to help when needed.”

Sowards said that when she was at the school, her focus was on herbs and she felt like it had an impact on the students.

“I brought herbs from my own garden and taught students how they can be used in foods and supplies,” Sowards said. “Herbs are different to teach with, because kids can feel and taste the herbs and just know the difference. There are so many textures and scents that are captivating. A young learner can see the top of a carrot sticking out of the ground and know that it is a carrot, but with herbs you can pinch off a piece and taste it. It is just a very hands on thing and very neat for these younger students.”

The project has involved the men, women and children involved with the school.

“The men’s group prepared the soil and did all of the legwork and the women worked with the students to plant the seeds and prepare the plants,” Carla Womack, of CAO Head Start, said. “The project is ongoing and the children will even get to eat their own produce. We plan on continuing by having students plant more seeds indoors and transplant them later outdoors.”

Sowards offers educational community garden opportunities for the community all over, from Fourteenth Street to Shawnee State Forest. To find more information about what she offers through her work with the Scioto Soil and Water Conservation, visit their facebook page or go to

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.

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