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Sims students donate garden veggies to senior center

Sims Elementary School fifth-grader Alayisa Elridge recently picked a large cabbage from the school's outdoor classroom garden. The fifth-graders also picked radishes, potatoes, peppers and herbs from the garden and donated them to the Rockdale County Senior Services last week. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

Sims Elementary School fifth-grader Alayisa Elridge recently picked a large cabbage from the school's outdoor classroom garden. The fifth-graders also picked radishes, potatoes, peppers and herbs from the garden and donated them to the Rockdale County Senior Services last week. Staff Photo: Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

CONYERS -- Sims Elementary School students know they reap what they sow.

Fifth-grade students decided to give extra vegetables and herbs from their outdoor classroom garden to the Rockdale County Senior Services.

"We've been talking about philanthropy," said Hillary Simpson, a fifth-grade science teacher at the school who helped develop the garden. "What better way to learn about it than go do it. We had so many vegetables, and we decided that somebody else could use it."

Last week, Simpson and a group of her students took cabbages, radishes, potatoes, peppers and herbs from their garden to the senior center.

"The seniors were so excited; they loved the kids," Simpson said. "They hugged the students and took pictures with them. It was great. They were able to interact with them. It was a great culmination of the philanthropy project."

The students even got an extra surprise -- it was birthday day the center, so the seniors shared their cake and ice cream with them. The seniors also showed the students their own small garden, and the students invited them to come see theirs one day.

The nearly 100 students in Simpson's classes have worked on the garden all year. It was started last May by another group of students, and this year, her current students completed it.

"One of the students named it Plant University because we go there for everything," Simpson said.

The students take art and writing classes in the garden, and learn math and science lessons, like multiplication and the food chain, in it.

"They can see it," Simpson said. "There are so many things we have done in the garden. It is a true outdoor classroom."

As part of Red Ribbon Week earlier this year, the students planted 100 tulip bulbs as a promise to say no to drugs and alcohol. The tulips are expected to bloom in late spring.

"As the garden evolves and we see what's there, we will see what we can do with it," Simpson said.