ROSWELL, GA — Students at Hillside Elementary School in Roswell are learning about the environment, organic gardening and healthy eating choices through hands-on activities in the school’s new gardens.

“Planting Seeds, Growing Minds” is the name of the project that began in 2009 with the installation of eight raised beds, and has since expanded to 25 beds, one handicapped-accessible raised bed and a greenhouse.

The Hillside gardens and greenhouse were funded through grants from Lowe’s and the Toshiba Corporation. Parents, students, Boy and Girl Scouts and the school’s All-Pro Dads have volunteered their time to help construct, plant and maintain the gardens.

“We are very excited about our new gardens and the opportunities for our students to learn about gardening and healthy eating,” said Lori Fanning, principal of Hillside Elementary. “Gardening brings the curriculum that is presented in the classroom to life in a living laboratory where students learn through doing. Our students are not only learning to respect the environment, but they are also learning how to sustain themselves by making healthy eating choices.”

Several gigantic pumpkins were recently harvested in the gardens from seeds that students planted last spring. Today, the gardens contain fall and winter vegetables including beets, kale, cauliflower, radishes, broccoli, cabbage and lettuce. In addition, Hillside kindergarteners have planted pansies that they first nurtured under grow lights.

One third grade class used basil and other items harvested in the gardens to make pesto for their pizza. Every student in a first grade class got to take home a one gallon bag of theĀ lettuce that they grew.

First graders Ciela Furniss and Danielle Lin pose with pumpkins grown in the Hillside Elementary gardens