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Students in Beeville get hands-on gardening experience to learn about sustainability

The students work with Coffee Barrel, and even get to sell what they grow to customers.
SMACS gardening.jpg
Posted at 7:22 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 22:04:08-04

BEEVILLE, Texas — Located in Beeville, Coffee Barrel has a focus on sustainability in everything it does, and owner Dr. Dhaval Patel wants to spread his love for sustainability with everyone.

Dr. Patel and Coffee Barrel have partnered with several local school districts to teach kids sustainable practices.

“We have tried to put together a plethora of programs that tap into schools, and partnerships with them on curriculum in a fun and exciting way. So, the next generation is really about the kids, and that’s what we need to focus on, and that’s how sustainability fits into all of this,” Dr. Patel said.

Twice a week, students from local districts visit Coffee Barrel to work on the community garden, learning about sustainability, as well as how to plant and tend to their own garden.

At St. Mary’s Academy Charter School in Beeville, teacher Nancy Cavallin works with the kids at their own garden to continue the lessons the kids learn with Dr. Patel.

“This helps them to be able to relax a little bit, and understand what they need to learn, without really realizing sometimes that they’re learning,” she said. “All I have to say is garden and they jump up and they’re ready to go.”

The older kids help the younger kids with planting, and pass their knowledge down. Sixth grader Sonia said she loves working with the younger students, and loves that what she’s learning can make a difference in the world.

“I really like planting and everything. I like being able to help people, and the environment,” she said.

The younger kids enjoy getting a hands-on experience working in the garden.

“We can have fun and plant stuff. We get to learn how to plant,” said fourth grader Baylei.

“You need to know that you’re going to get dirty,” said Braeden, a second grader.

Gemma, also a fourth grader at SMACS, said she doesn’t mind learning, and enjoys watering the plants and mixing the soil.

“We learned some of the names of the plants. There are a lot of plants in the garden,” Gemma said.

The kids aren’t only learning how to plant and care for their garden. This year, Coffee Barrel has started selling the herbs grown by the local students, and giving the money raised back to the schools.

“The kids learn how to create a business plan, sell those herbs with a recipe card and cooking demonstration, and the revenue that comes in goes back to the schools for projects they want to work on,” Dr. Patel said.

Dr. Patel said he has seen an increase in the number of kids participating in the program since it started, which he says he loves to see.

“It is probably the best honor that I could receive, to see somebody young like that be inspired by the things that we’re doing together, and want to take that on,” he said.

But not only are the kids learning, they’re discovering passions they didn’t know they had.

“We’ve seen them go from shy individuals to learning skills not just about growing, but being a business leader, and trying to go talk to parents and the customers that come in here to sell them herbs. We’ve seen them want to become cooks and compete. We’ve seen a growth in communication, in business-savvy, in growing, in excitement just across the board, and that’s what you want these kids to be able to do,” Dr. Patel said.

Cavallin said every year, a few parents approach her about tips to maintaining a garden, because their kids went home and said they wanted to start their own garden.

“I love this, because my background is actually horticulture, and before I came here, I was in research. So, I am bringing that to them, and they’re hearing about different careers that they might not have known before,” she said.

Additionally, Dr. Patel will be hosting a cook-off on Sept. 11 at Coffee Barrel, pitting kids from area schools against each other, with food grown locally. He said it’s all a part of his sustainability program, and invites the public to attend. It will start at 10:30 a.m. at Coffee Barrel, located at 401 W. Corpus Christi St. in Beeville.