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Sunny View Elementary gets two rain barrels for garden project

Children from the Sunny View 21st Century Afterschool Academy study one of the two rain barrels installed to provide water for their garden project. (photo submitted by Angela Hall)

The Rutherford-Polk-McDowell District Health Department recently facilitated the creation of two new school gardens at Polk Central and Saluda Elementary Schools and provided Sunny View Elementary School with two rain barrels for their garden project.
Funding was provided through the efforts of Mary Smith and WNC Healthy Kids by the N.C. Health & Wellness Trust Fund. WNC Healthy Kids is a collaborative program that organizes and shares information about efforts in Western North Carolina to reduce and prevent childhood obesity.
The Polk County Community Foundation previously provided funds for the raised garden beds at Sunny View Elementary. The 21st Century Afterschool Academy, with Bridget Franklin as director, helped to clear the beds, plant fall crops and water them.
Since the school is on a shared well, use of rain barrels not only shows environmental stewardship but expands the capabilities of the gardens. Use of the gardens can extend to the community in summer with water available. The rain barrels were made locally by A Drop in the Bucket, owned by  Michael McGill (828-699-4774).
Fruits and vegetables are important for optimal child growth, weight management and chronic disease prevention. Supporting increased fruit and vegetable access, availability and reduced price are key strategies for meeting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) objective of increased fruit and vegetable consumption. The ultimate goal is improved nutrition among all Americans.
Organizers said having children involved in every aspect of growing food gives them ownership and enthusiasm for healthy nutrition. Thanks to the USDA Fresh Fruits and Vegetable grant, children from schools in Polk County such as Sunny View are given the chance to try sometimes new (dragon fruit, anyone?), tasty and healthy snacks to encourage them to take charge of their own health.
– article submitted by Julie Maziarka, kindergarten teacher, Sunny View Elementary School