By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
VAN BUREN — McKenna Morey was tired of seeing the neglected garden outside of Van Buren Elementary School.
The incoming eighth-grader could see it from her mother’s kindergarten classroom. She also had to look at it during track practice when the team ran up and down the hillside.
It was “just an eyesore” with lots of weeds, she said.
Now, there’s a vegetable garden full of squash, zucchini, green beans, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, onions, peppers, watermelon, mint, basil and oregano.
McKenna has made several donations of produce from the garden to CHOPIN Hall in Findlay.
“They’re easy to donate to, and it was just a good place to donate stuff to,” McKenna said about choosing that charity.
McKenna has also planted a flower garden at the school that contains lilies, coleus, petunias, black-eyed Susans, delphinium, foxglove, lamb’s ear, dianthus and daisies.
She has been in 4-H for five years and enters a variety of projects at the Hancock County Fair. In addition to tending flowers and vegetables at home, she shows a horse, sheep and turkeys. She sews. Sometimes she does a cooking project.
This year, she won first place at the local level for her vegetable garden, a leadership project, and moved on to the state fair with that project.
Her flower garden was good for second place in its category locally.
The projects require a lot of preparation: pitching the project and securing permission from the school, collecting donations, measuring the acidity of the soil, and pulling weeds with the help of her family and other volunteers.
Now, McKenna weeds and picks vegetables twice a week at the school garden.
Kindergarten classes used to plant pumpkins and sunflowers in the school garden, said McKenna’s mother, Wendi Morey.
Because of that, the pair wanted to make sure kindergarteners were still involved, Wendi Morey said.
In the spring, some helped plant seeds and others painted ladybug rocks, McKenna said.
This fall, McKenna will show the same students — now first-graders — what the garden produced.
Anyone interested in donating seeds or other supplies can email Morey at email@example.com.