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Camp Fire North and The Food Project tend to gardens at Lynn public schools

From left, Faith Mace, 7th grade; Evan Landry, 7th grade; Kimberly Simard, 9th grade; Griffin L’Italien, 8th grade; and Olivia Foss, 8th grade, watering one of the gardens at Harrington Elementary School, in Lynn. (Jim Wilson)

LYNN — This summer, kids from Camp Fire North Shore are getting in some community service by watering gardens at various Lynn Public Schools three times a week.

For the project, Camp Fire North Shore, which is based in Salem, has partnered with The Food Project, the organization that is in charge of the gardens.

According to Meghan Collins, director of operations for Camp Fire, 15 to 20 kids rotate between the different Lynn Public Schools on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, to water the gardens.

She said The Food Project needed the help; the organization doesn’t have the manpower during the summer to operate the gardens, because of their commitment to a Hamilton-Wenham garden during that time period.

Collins said the kids participating in the project are in seventh, eighth and ninth grade, and are part of the organization’s Adventure Camp, which has a community service aspect.

Olivia Foss, 12, of Swampscott, said she has fun with the garden project, and also gets in some of her required community service hours — she’s a part of the National Junior Honor Society, which requires community service.

“It’s fun to go with the other campers and help the community,” said Foss, who will be going into eighth grade at Swampscott Middle School.

Collins said exposing kids to gardening is helping them learn about proper nutrition, which might make them more willing to try new food and understand what’s healthy.

When they go to the schools in the morning, kids and counselors first have to find the water source at the schools. Right now, all the project entails is watering, but the campers might be weeding later on in the summer.

“We were a little concerned that they might not like it,” said Collins. “It has been fantastic. The kids want to be part of the group every day. They’re much more engaged. They get to be off-site and The Food Project is loving it because the gardens are being watered.”

Joe Hallisey, Adventure Camp specialist, said the activity fosters teamwork among the campers and allows them to grow together as a group.

“It gives them, especially here, a sense of responsibility,” he said. “Some of the kids went to these schools and are helping out their former schools.”

Camp Fire North started watering the gardens earlier this month and the project will run through the end of the summer camp program at the end of August.

The school gardens receiving help are: Brickett Elementary School, Callahan Elementary School, Drewicz Elementary School, Ford Elementary School, Harrington Elementary School, Hood Elementary School, Lincoln-Thomson Elementary School and Washington Elementary School.

Hazel Kiefer, Lynn Urban Agriculture manager for The Food Project, could not be reached for comment.

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