Students at Jackson Via Win Pea Planting Contest

May 23, 2014

With a few seeds, some soil and water, students at Jackson Via Elementary School are making magic happen.

It's all a part of the "First Peas to the Table" contest, where first graders from schools around Charlottesville planted peas at the beginning of March. The school that grew their peas the fastest won the contest.

"They all had their different ways of planting and the first elementary first graders to have a pea pod grow one centimeter in width were declared the winners," says Whitney McDermott, elementary school programs fellow for the City Schoolyard Garden.

This is the second time that Charlottesville City Schools participated in the event sponsored by the City Schoolyard Garden, but the contest has been going on since the days of Thomas Jefferson.

"He did it with his friends and it was this whole big thing and I think they also had their own techniques," says Virginia Berthy, garden coordinator.

First graders at Jackson Via were awarded the Jefferson cup for their hard work and they were also able to pick a few peas off the stalk to see how they taste.

"They taste like sweet little peas," says Charlotte Hubert, first grader at Jackson Via Elementary.

"You have to find a pea and twist them off so you won't hurt the vine," says Diamoni Spellman, also a first grader at Jackson Via.

With careful picking, they gathered a few peas for their classrooms and got a chance to plant a few more vegetables in the school's garden.

"We just planted a pumpkin that was a whole pumpkin that they hollowed out and put dirt inside," says Berthy. "There are also cabbages right here, of course you have your peas and then there are potatoes."

"Anytime the children see me or another volunteer in the garden they come running in asking what they can do and they love it," Berthy explains. "For a child to give up recess and pull weeds it's just a testament to how essential that is and how much they love it."

Teachers hope that with the help of the pea contest, there will be more excitement around planting fruits and vegetables in their garden.

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