HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — Every Monday evening from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., the community of Holland is invited to pick and prune free produce at Holland Middle School.
The garden was started by students in advance STEM classes and is kept up over the summer thanks to student helpers like Maya Woltman.
“I’ve learned a lot more about plants than I knew,” Woltman said. “I’ve learned how to prune tomato plants, and I have learned a lot about how different vegetables look when they’re growing.”
Some students at Holland Middle School had never seen a vegetable or fruit growing from the ground. Greenhouse summer coordinator Holly Goyings said students were shocked to learn that produce does not just come from the grocery store.
“They’re able to see what they do when they nurture something that starts out as a seed or a small plant, and then one day it starts producing,” she said.
The producer is free, and there is no financial qualification to enjoy the fresh food. A student helper will assist any shopper through the greenhouse.
“The students walk them through the greenhouse, explain what kinds of things are ready to harvest that week,” Goyings said. “It changes week to week because of the growing season.”
The food is then weighed so that the school can keep a record of its production.
“The first year, we had about 20 people from the community come into harvest. Last year, we had about a 120,” Goyings said.
Woltman said in addition to learning about fruit and vegetables, and she is excited to practice her Spanish.
“It’s really fun,” she said. “I love getting to interact with the customers.”
Three student helpers had to go through the interview process and then are rewarded with a gift card at the end of the season. Woltman said she does not know how she will spend it as of now.
Once the summer garden market ends, additional produce is used for school lunches and snacks.