Moler Elementary

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"Try something different, you just might like it."

Velma Stokes is the School Secretary at Moler Elementary on Columbus' South Side. Like other staff at the school, she has witnessed first-hand how a learning garden initiative at the school can become a mainstay of the school community. 


The carrots weren’t growing. How could all the other gardens be full of growth, but not the carrots? Our food educators asked, 'For carrots, where does the growth occur?' 'Underground.' Yes, so we don’t always see the growth happening. We have to trust that it's happening before we can see the results.

In that sense, we are all just like the carrots. We have to trust that our growth, our recovery is taking place. Eventually, we will be able to see how the healing has impacted daily life. 


When Velma first watched the Local Matters' learning garden (fondly called Moler Farm) at Moler Elementary develop, she was... intrigued. She is protective of her students and families, and was not convinced that this would be a positive development at the school.

During one of the first harvests, a unique plant caught her attention. 'What are these strange-looking purple things,' she asked Jesse Hickman, Growing Matters Manager. When she learned they were eggplants, her next question became, 'what do you do with them?'

Velma's cautious curiosity reflects that of so many people when they first explore Local Matters' learning gardens. Produce can look very different growing from the ground than it does in groceries or in restaurants. But, with an open mind people can learn about food in a way that changes lives.


Velma now looks forward to the eggplants growing each summer. She has worked on an eggplant lasagna recipe that her family adores. Her openness to the garden and learning about it's growth has allowed her to explore new, healthy foods.

She shares that as the School Secretary, she sees firsthand that the students also enjoy growing and harvesting the vegetables. Through the garden, Local Matters has taught her and the students to "Try something different, you just might like it. Who knows what your new favorite meal may end up being just by trying something new."


Our work with schools like Moler Elementary on Columbus' South Side is possible because of your support, paired with that of dedicated staff like Velma Stokes. Thank you.