Shannon Carroll heads ‘Growing Success’

Article Published: May. 10, 2012 | Modified: May. 10, 2012
Shannon Carroll heads ‘Growing Success’

Mabel School students teach composting practices to elementary school students as part of Shannon Carroll’s ‘Growing Success’ program.

Photo submitted

Gardening enthusiasts envision children learning most all subjects by planting a school garden. There is spacing between plants to decide upon and measure, soil samples to take, then calculations made to enrich soil. Songs may be sung, pictures painted, poetry written, and much more.

However, teachers who I’ve worked with seem to have every moment of the day filled. After a long day with children and evening duties, they typically don’t have the energy it takes to seek out the resources needed to grow a garden.

What interested teachers really need is an enthusiastic advocate for school gardens. Shannon Carroll, technology facilitator at Mabel School, believes that children need more than technology to thrive.

Shannon has been the driving force behind the “Growing Success” team at her school. She applies for grants to receive funding for their gardens, organizes and facilitates meetings with teachers, staff and master gardener volunteers, and puts in many hours organizing special events, such as their food and garden extraordinaire last week.

During the school day, middle school students taught gardening lessons to the elementary classes. Students rotated through stations to learn about composting, plant bed construction, mini-greenhouses, vegetables trellises, rain barrels, organic pest control, container gardens, season extension and edible landscaping. It was obvious that these students had been mentored by enthusiastic teachers. I saw them demonstrate important life skills, including the ability to speak to a group.

Shannon also recruited Sheri Castle, author of “The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Recipes for Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands and CSA Farm Boxes,” to join the event.

Sheri had her own station, where she encouraged children to try healthy sandwich combinations that they may have never thought of. She shared much history and wisdom with each group, such as the fact that there were once around 1,500 apple varieties grown in our region, and how important cider vinegar for food preservation was to the survival of our ancestors.

Sheri, a Watauga County native who now lives in Chapel Hill, brought seasonal produce not yet available in the High Country for the students to help prepare dinner for around 200. Students harvested their own lettuce for salad and worked hard washing and chopping vegetables while Sheri created a pasta primavera dish to serve the families arriving for the garden tour, PTO meeting, and student performances.

This is the recipe that Sheri Castle shared with students. Refreshing combinations for warm weather lunches.

Harvest sandwiches or wraps
Decide on whole grain bread or tortillas.
Choose as many spreads as you would like. Good options: tzatziki (Greek yogurt dip with cucumbers and dill), cream cheese, or hummus.
Top your spread with cucumbers, carrots, or any desired fresh vegetable.
Add fresh herbs, such as dill, mint, parsley, cilantro.
Roll your tortilla to eat, or enjoy your sandwich open-faced or with another piece of bread.

Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D,. is a registered dietitian and nutritionist and extension agent with the N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. For more information, contact her at or call (828) 264-3061.

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