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SNAP-Ed students planting a garden in pots and buckets

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala — Soil, seeds and a couple of buckets go a long way when learning to grow a sustainable garden.

Jennifer Palmer, SNAP-Ed educator for Colbert and Lawrence counties, leveraged a few of her community relationships and donations from local businesses to create a bucket container garden for third-graders throughout both of her counties.

Bucket Container Garden

As part of the Grow More, Give More program through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, Palmer obtained several 5-gallon bucket containers for Colbert Heights Elementary, Hatton Elementary School and Speake Elementary School. The buckets were a result of donations from Lowe’s and Home Depot. She drilled holes in the bottom of the bucket and filled them with soil. She also placed Grow More, Give More, Northwest RC&D and Live Well Alabama on stickers on all the buckets.

Palmer said the students planted bell peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and seeds. Using the USDA’s MyPlate curriculum, Palmer explained the nutritional value of the vegetables. The children played a game to guess how the plants would look and how they would taste, which drummed up excitement for students.

“When students actually help do the planting, they are more likely to eat it or try the vegetable when it’s grown,” Palmer said. “They all had lots of fun when it came time to put the plants in the soil.”

Palmer also reinforced lessons she taught earlier in the school year. These lessons included learning about a plant’s life cycle and the nutrition benefits of eating fresh vegetables.

Students who participate in the summer programming weed, water and tend to the plants and while watching them grow. In addition, all the students received seeds and a small cup to grow a plant at home.

Continuing Efforts

Palmer worked from the Northwest RC&D to build six raised beds at Hatton Elementary in 2021. The RC&D grant was about $1,600, which purchased lumber, soil and fertilizer for the beds. In 2022, to continue these efforts, Palmer received tomato seeds, soil and plants from the RC&D to plant the raised beds again at the school. While receiving soil and seeds to plant 17 buckets at Colbert Heights and an additional 10 buckets at Hatton Elementary.

Jennifer has also used her used her community partnership with JoJo’s Greenhouse in Lawrence County, to obtain additional plants to put in the buckets for Speake Elementary, along with plants for each third grader to take home and plant.

“It’s so fun watching the kids get out and get their hands in the soil,” Palmer said. “It’s all about learning and having a good time all mixed together. When kids are able to watch and tend to a plant they are so excited to eat it.”

More Information

To contact Palmer, SNAP-Ed educator in Colbert and Lawrence counties, call (256) 974-2464 or email her at jep0069@aces.edu. To learn more about SNAP-Ed and the work of educators throughout Alabama, visit www.LiveWellAlabama.com or visit them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.