Ashley Ridge garden providing fresh produce for students

Ashley Ridge garden provides fresh produce for students

SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - One Dorchester County school is promoting healthy eating habits by growing their own fruits and veggies for the entire school to enjoy.

Ashley Ridge High School has a half acre "Educational Garden of Dreams" full of produce. The garden was started four years ago to give special needs students an outlet, but now teachers use the garden as a teaching tool.

Ashley Ridge agriculture teacher, Ben Gibson, says since the start of the program, they're growing more than fruits, veggies and herbs. He says the work ethic of the 97 students is also growing.

"We till, plant, pick, grow," said Gibson. "Anything there is to do, we do it."

Gibson says more than 3,000-pounds of fruits and vegetables come out of the garden every year.

A few years ago, Ashley River became the only school in the state to become GAP – Good Agricultural Practices – certified. And now, the school cafeteria buys and serves the home grown produce to students for lunch.

"It comes to us pesticide free and it's picked the very same day that it's consumed," said Debi Filomarino, a food service manager at the school.

Filomarino says the tomatoes used in the pizza and the veggies used on sandwiches come right from the garden.

Students are not the only ones to benefit from the local produce.

Any produce not used at the school is sold to faculty and staff, and other schools in the district.

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