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Young Latonia Gardeners Prepare for Weekend Sale

The Herbmania program is bearing fruit - and flowers - again at Latonia Elementary.

Students who participate in the program will be selling their wares on Friday (5 to 7 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.).

This is the second year for the plant sale at Latonia Elementary. Program director Bob Runyan said he has ordered between two and three hundred flats of flowers and hanging baskets for the sale.

Each sells for $10.

"All of the money goes back to the program that we have," said Runyan.  "All year-round we have third graders, fourth graders, and fifth graders participate in our growing program. They each choose a pathway, accounting, marketing, sales, and production, and we encourage them to follow the system of  growing the seeds to be something that can be consumed by people. We have a patch of land, almost a half acre, and we have a hoop house, which is like a greenhouse, so we can all get our hands dirty. It is very rewarding."

The sale will be held on the school grounds close to the growing patch unless it rains, in which case the sale will be moved into the gym.

Runyan started this program about five years ago, and he incorporates it into the after-school program.  

Runyan said the program partners with the Local Food Connection in Newport to distribute the products of the Herbmania urban garden.

"We publish what we have on the website," said Runyan. "The children are city kids and they haven't always been exposed to growing things, but they catch on very quickly. When they tell their parents, the parents want to help them start gardens at home, and the children turn into the experts and they teach the parents."

Last year the money raised from the plant sale went to constructing a $3,500 shed to house the tools. It also goes into buying soil and seed, and fashioning irrigation systems. Runyan said the kids are looking forward to sale, and to working all summer on the plants.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor