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Second-graders tour J.H. Weilnau Farm

Cary Ashby • Oct 2, 2017 at 11:00 AM

MILAN TOWNSHIP — Second-grader Karmin Galindo was excited after petting the nearly 6-week-old rabbit called Mittens.

“I’ve never seen a real bunny or touched one,” she said. “It think it was really cute. I think his fur was really, really beautiful.”

After touring J.H. Weilnau Farm in Milan Township, co-owner Holly Weilnau asked the Venice Heights Elementary School students how many of them had never been on a farm. A large majority of the group raised their hands.

During Thursday’s tour, the students picked vegetables and tasted them with Weilnau’s permission.

There were a lot of sour-looking faces after they tried some arugula.

“That was nasty,” 7-year-old Anarion Stanford said.

The second-graders also picked and tasted kale and rainbow swiss chard.

“The kale was yummy. I like that it tasted like broccoli,” said 8-year-old Cole Frederick.

Before the students selected some yum-yum peppers, Weilnau told them “you need to pick one that is harder and not wrinkly.”

“It tasted like a fruit. It has no pepper taste whatsoever,” said teacher Eric Johnston, who was on the field trip with fellow second-grade teacher Kelly Ballah, intervention teacher Sarah Toomey and bus driver Gary Wilson.

Sandusky City Schools is part of the national Farm to School program.

“This is part of our transformation plan to teach child nutrition. No better way to do it,” said Brad Kraft, the district food service director, referring to the field trip. “Sandusky was the first school in Ohio to do that (Farm to School).” 

In July, Sandusky schools began a partnership with J.H. Weilnau Farm. 

The Venice Heights students grow their own food in a raised garden bed. Most recently they grew cherry tomatoes, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, peas and peppers. The food is donated to Victory Kitchen in Sandusky.

First, the students research what will grow in Ohio and then choose the vegetables. Johnston said the process teaches them the importance of “food to table” and the responsibility of growing food and caring for a garden.

“The kids do everything,” he added. “Once we decide what can grow, they pick six things.”

Reflecting on Thursday’s field trip, 7-year-old Angelena Moots said she learned that pigs enjoy eating cabbage.

This was the first time Nivea Harris, also 7, had been to a farm.

“It was pretty cool,” she said.

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