Arapahoe Schools fill greenhouse with fresh produce for students to enjoy

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 7:08 PM CDT
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FREMONT COUNTY, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) -

The Arapahoe Odyssey Cooking and Gardening Program was created six years ago at Fremont County School District #38 in Arapahoe when a few inspired teachers opened the door to a mostly unused greenhouse, and dreamed of what it could be.

It was mostly filled with weeds, but through a grant and a lot of dirt work, they’ve turned it into a thriving part of the Arapahoe school.

Hope Logue, an instructor with the 21st Century Community Learning Center after school program, stated, “The inspiration came from walking by the greenhouse every day and wondering what’s inside that, and why isn’t it being used.” When Logue realized the potential for the greenhouse, she approached the superintendent at the time, who readily agreed and gave permission to start the program.

“The biggest benefit is knowing where their food comes from. A little girl thought potatoes came off of a tree when we pulled them out of the ground, added Logue. “We need education on where their food is sourced from.”

Through the Wyoming Department of Education, they were awarded a self contained cooking cart, to teach the students food preparation skills. They’ve grown many fresh produce items to include in the cooking portion of the lessons. Another important focus of the program has been to include cultural awareness by inviting elders to the sessions.

“We had an elder and he would teach our students about the Arapahoe language and how to say different vegetables in the Arapahoe language,” added Larissa Lawrence, an instructor with the 21st Century Community Learning Center after school program.

Although the grant funds run out in June, the school plans to keep the program growing. Joe Hermocillo, a federal programs director who oversees the after school program explained, “In the meantime our district is planning to utilize the things that we’ve learned in that six to seven years to build upon that program and have our own after school program. This is one of those very important parts that have been successful.”

The learning is very hands on, so when many students started learning virtually, teachers had to do their best to convert the learning to an online format. Rayliana Means, a 2nd grader in the after school program has participated mostly virtually, but she’s starting to get her hands in the dirt and is excited to learn more.

“I would like to plant watermelon, I love watermelons,” said Means. Students will be able to do more hands on learning in the greenhouse, during the summer session this year.

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