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CABBAGE PATCH KIDS

LaSAS students (from left) Anna Laborde, Olivia Dixon, Ava Williber, Brandon Wright and Kay Lee pose with some beautiful heads of cabbage in the school’s garden. The produce will be on sale to the public. Part of the crop will end up on the lunch trays of Avoyelles Parish School District schools’ Christmas meals on Dec. 19. {Photo courtesy of Ward Bordelon}

LaSAS garden harvest underway

School-grown cabbage will be used in Christmas meals

Area veggie lovers can have their cravings met and support the next generation of farmers at the same time -- thanks to the Bayhills gardens of the Louisiana School for the Agricultural Sciences (LaSAS).

The agri-science charter school’s crops of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower will be sold to the public, Ag teacher Ward Bordelon said.

Cabbage and broccoli are being harvested now and cauliflower will begin in late November. Orders can be sent with a LaSAS student or by calling LaSAS at 318-346-2762 to set up a time to purchase the produce.

Broccoli is $1 per pound. Cabbage and cauliflower are $2 per head.

The school’s cabbage crop will be featured in the Christmas lunch at all Avoyelles School District cafeterias on Dec. 19.

“All schools will have LaSAS cabbage, and possibly broccoli, for their Christmas meals,” APSD Food Services Supervisor Jenny Welch said. “It is part of our ‘Farm to School’ program.”

She said the district began the Farm to School effort a few years ago and it has continued to grow each year.

“To have students at LaSAS know that the food they grew is feeding other students in the parish, and for those students to know that their meal came from other students, helps to bring awareness to the importance of local agriculture,” Welch said. “It also helps focus attention on the need for students to eat healthy foods.”

While LaSAS is the largest garden operation, Welch said all schools have some type of garden program. “Bunkie High grows strawberries,” she said, noting the garden’s crop has been used in the past for school lunches.

Some schools’ gardens may only be small herb patches, but it teaches students about agriculture and life lessons of responsibility and work.

“A school may not have enough produce to serve the entire district or even provide a serving for all students at their school, but we are looking into the possibility of having a ‘tasting’ program that would allow students at a school to sample the foods grown in its gardens,” Welch added.

Some schools use their gardens as an activity for their special education classes. That has proven to be very beneficial in teaching and rewarding for the students, she said.

The Farm to School program also tries to use local, or regional, foods in the schools when possible.

“On Nov. 14 we had ‘Locally Grown Day’ at Lafargue Elementary,” Welch said. “We received rice from a farm in Crowley and sweet potatoes grown at Cullen Farm in Evergreen. We used them in the gumbo.”

Welch said she hopes to be able to combine all of the various garden-related programs in the school with the APSD Food Services’ overall “Farm to School” initiative. She believes that would strengthen and benefit all of the programs.

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