Students and Families Grow Gardening Skills

Children in garden

There is nothing better than fresh produce, especially when you help grow it. That is the vision behind the Lower Columbia School Gardens (LCSG) in the Kelso-Longview area. LCSG connects kids and families with real food and hands-on learning through school gardens and cooking programs. Some of the produce grown in the gardens is donated to residents who are unable to leave their houses. Some of the produce is supplied to the community through Free Farm Stands.

The gardens are maintained by the students, where they learn about growing fresh food, soil health, and the relationship with worms, bees and other beneficial insects. Parents and other area residents are welcome to help in the gardens as well. One family that has done that is the Lin family. Fiona (age 6) and Daniel (age 14) along with their parents, Brian and Michelle, are regulars at the Northlake Elementary school garden in Longview. They help with weeding, watering, thinning, and other tasks.

Michelle stated, “Fruits and vegetables grown in the garden taste better than those at stores.” She said that they never tried to eat uncooked asparagus until Ian Thompson, LCSG operations coordinator and founder, encouraged them to try it. Michelle said, “Fiona loves going to the gardens every day after school. It taught Fiona responsibility and empathy.”

Through her volunteer work, Michelle has learned all aspects of growing plants – what are normal growth patterns, when to add different fertilizers, and when to pick fruit from the tree so it won’t be harmed. The kids have learned about using organic soil and how it is safe to eat the produce straight from the tree or garden.

Thompson said, “Students don’t always know where fresh food comes from, and many households do not regularly cook with fresh ingredients. So, they get very excited to try new foods, including edible flowers.” He says it connects them to the Earth in a real way.

The labor-management partnership between the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48 (IBEW) has focused its charitable giving on investing in the communities where members live and work. The partnership’s trustee Andy Busack, owner of Busack Electric in Longview, said, “Helping our community with food security issues is vital to me as a lifelong resident and a business owner.”

Thompson stated that NECA-IBEW’s donation was greatly appreciated, allowing LCSG to provide this important opportunity for students at 20 school gardens.

The formal partnership between the Oregon Columbia Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48 is leading the electrical industry through integrity, quality, skill, competence, and value. The partnership’s goals are to build the partnership and trust; attract, develop and retain the best workforce in the industry; and community investment. Learn more about a career in the electrical industry at

This content provided by and paid for by NECA-IBEW-48.

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