More than 200 Plum Cove Elementary School pupils recently harvested more than 70 pounds of produce.

During this year’s Fall Harvest Day, kindergartners through fifth-graders picked potatoes, beets, carrots, squash, pumpkins, and beans they planted in their school garden last June with Backyard Growers.

Backyard Growers’ executive director Lara Lepionka, FoodCorps service member Meghan Stratton, and MassLIFT service members Courtland Kelly and Marina Lavender led students through the harvest, and were joined by state Rep. Ann-Margaret Ferrante, Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and Councilman Bill Fonvielle, who spent some time in the gardens with the children.

Since 2013, Backyard Growers has led a unique program that gives 100 percent of Gloucester’s kindergartners through fifth-graders the opportunity to plant, harvest, and eat two garden crops a year in collaboration with the Gloucester Schools’ Food Service Department. The program includes Salad Days, where students plant leaf lettuce varieties to be harvested in June, and Fall Harvest Days, where each grade plants a specific fall crop to be harvested and eaten in the cafeteria when students return in the fall.

More than 1,300 schoolchildren participate in the program, giving them a seed-to-fork experience that fosters a new appreciation for fresh vegetables.

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