Fairfax County students farm vegetables for food-insecure families

Virginia

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. (WDVM) — From the garden to dinner plates, Woodson High School students are fighting food insecurity for families in the county.

“We have cucumbers, we have eggplant, bush beans, peppers, tomatoes… Anything that will provide a high yield and high nutritional value to the community,” said Lauren Kinne, the school’s science department chair and Environmental Club sponsor.

Kinne wanted to find a way to help food-insecure families during the pandemic, while also improving the mental health of her students. She enlisted the help of the Environmental Club to help with the garden.

“At a time where students are spending a lot of time in front of their computer, I wanted to make sure I could build community and I wanted to make sure I could foster environmental stewardship,” said Kinne.

The students planted the garden in March when in-person instruction resumed, and the teens plan to continue to visit the garden during their summer vacation.

The club formed a partnership with Food for Others, an organization that fights food insecurity and feeds roughly 4,000 Fairfax County families per week.

The students have donated over eight pounds of vegetables so far and hope to grow that number over the coming months. Woodson joins four other FCPS schools participating in a partnership with the Fairfax Food Council, with Belvedere Elementary School in Falls Church having donated over 50 pounds of produce.

“Over the summer each person will be signed up for different weeks, so you come every day or every other day depending on how hot it is, and then we’re going to water, weed and harvest if there’s anything to harvest,” said Ella Jackson, a rising junior at Woodson High School.

Students and staff say it’s a way to help students get out of quarantine and into the outdoors, while also making a difference.

“It was a great way to meet new people and spend some time outside, it’s a great way to give back to the community too, especially in such a hard time,” said Woodson High School student Kimberly Austin.

The students say the goal is to expand the garden to other areas around the school in the near future.

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