Soccer for Success Tackles Gardening at Stetser Elementary School

Students at Stetser Elementary School in Chester on Thursday traded in soccer balls and corner kicks for leaf compost and peat moss to construct four raised bed gardens as part of the Chester Upland Soccer for Success program.

Students and parents worked with Soccer for Success volunteers to construct the gardens in a grassy area beside the school. According to Brent Jacquette, head men's soccer coach at Widener University and director of the Chester Upland Soccer for Success program, students and parents will tend the gardens as they grow over the summer and partake in the harvest this fall.

The Soccer for Success program is an after-school youth development program that uses soccer as a tool to combat childhood obesity and promote healthy lifestyles for low-income students. The U.S. Soccer Foundation selected Widener to receive a $200,000 grant to operate the Chester Upland Soccer for Success program.

Students and parents donned gloves and literally plunged into the dirt, mixing a combination of peat moss, leaf compost, manure and other nutrient-rich concoctions to kick-start the growing process. They planted a variety of seeds including tomato, strawberry, sweet potato, carrot, radish, beet, zucchini and yellow squash.

The school planted two raised bed gardens with the help of Soccer for Success last year and had a dinner which incorporated sweet potatoes in a number of the dishes, which were a big hit with the students, according to Stetser Elementary School Principal Janet Baldwin.

"We will incorporate the harvest into the school lunch program," Baldwin said, "and parents will take home any extra vegetables for their own family meals."

The purpose of the gardens was not lost on fourth grade student Day'Ami Moyet, who served as a team leader in the construction of one of the gardens. She said she was looking forward to eating the carrots and green beans when they are harvested.

"We are doing it to be healthy and to eat healthy," Moyet said.


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