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Bummer in Staunton, VA

  • Subject: [cg] Bummer in Staunton, VA
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004 10:05:00 EDT

Children's produce stolen from Booker T.
Program helped youngsters learn about gardening
By Ruth Jones/staff

STAUNTON -- Makeba Robinson and the group of children in Booker T. Washington's Summer Enrichment Program were shocked to find their tomatoes missing when they arrived at their community garden Monday.

"Of course I was mad," said Robinson, program coordinator. She and the children gathered at the garden on Tuesday along with Larry Vickers and City Councilwoman Rita Wilson. "We've been out here in the heat and the rain," she said. "I feel bad for the kids." Robinson believes an adult took off with the tomatoes.

The tomatoes were not only going to be a treat for the children, but they had planned on sharing the fruits of their labor with the community. "Everybody loves fresh tomatoes. I can see how enticing it is," Robinson said. "There's so many down here. We're going to give them away. Just ask," said Robinson.

The children began taking classes in January with Susannah Baskervill, a 2004 graduate of Mary Baldwin College. "She came once a week and talked to them about different seeds and plants. She actually donated some money towards doing this program," said Robinson.

"It was my idea to come up with a community garden for the kids," Baskervill said.

Baskervill, who enjoys gardening as a hobby, submitted her idea for a project grant and received the $1,000 Margarett Kable Russell award which helped her idea become a reality. The garden also includes sunflowers, carrots, peas, green beans, cabbage and lettuce. When she graduated in May, Baskervill said the garden was just starting to grow and the children were excited to see its growth. "I knew that I left it in good hands," said Baskervill.

So, when the children arrived at the garden where they had worked so diligently on Monday and found their biggest, ripest tomatoes gone, they were upset.

"I was mad," student Ashleigh Smith said.

"I felt bad because we did all this work. They could've at least waited until we came," said student Mark Anderson.

However, as the group sifted through the garden, they did find a silver lining. Hiding beneath the heavy tomato plants were some large cherry tomatoes. Vickers started a cheer and everyone bit in. "Here's to more successful tomatoes," Vickers said.

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Originally published Wednesday, July 21, 2004

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