This preschool’s “victory garden” is feeding hungry families


The garden is maintained by Sprout, a business that teaches aspiring gardeners how to grow produce in their own backyards.

FAIRLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) — About four years ago, avid gardener Rebecca Carpenter founded Sprout, a “for-profit business with a nonprofit mission” to teach aspiring gardeners how to grow produce in their own backyards. 

She’s also teaching about one hundred preschoolers at STEM Preschool in Fairlington, who were growing their midday snacks in a Sprout garden beside their playground, until the pandemic sent them home for two months. 

“They were not able to plant the seeds or the plants but as the weather got warmer, and they can social distance outside in the garden, we were able to harvest,” said owner and Executive Director Portia Moore. 

The garden is back in the curriculum — to learn about biology and where food comes from — but now, their victory garden is teaching the kids more than one lesson.

“I think that we all have a responsibility to be part of the solution. Whatever the problem may be, we have something to offer,” said Carpenter. “We have gardens, we have the know-how, so that’s what we put to use.”

Since the springtime, Carpenter and dozens of volunteers have been harvesting the produce and sending it to Our Lady Queen of Peace, a Catholic church in Arlington. The church includes the produce in its weekly food bank, which serves about 700 families every week. 

It’s a way to give back, but Carpenter says it was also a way for volunteers, who were itching to get out of the house, to make themselves useful. 

“None of them knew anything about gardening and that was lovely for me because part of our mission with Sprout is to teach people how to grow food,” she said.

“I think it’s an opportunity to be charitable that we wouldn’t have thought about in the past,” Moore said, “so COVID did kind of bring that to light on giving back.”

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