They started simply, planting seeds for radishes and thyme, but administrators at St. Viator Parish School in Las Vegas are hoping to nurture a bigger picture with students, of feeding the hungry.

Farmer Wendy distributes seeds to plant.

After taking one year off — and learning about gardening through e-learning — St. Viator students returned to the soil, once again rolling their sleeves up and getting their hands dirty.

This month, they began planting seeds in their “Grow with Me Garden,” funded in large part through a social justice grant from the Viatorian Community.

“We are thankful for the many Viatorian blessings our school receives,” said Principal Katie Kiss, “and our SVS garden is no exception.”

This is the fifth year the school has cultivated a garden. Working with the urban garden organization, Garden Farms of Nevada — Farmer Wendy Wilson comes every week to help students tend the plots.

The farm organization provides hands-on garden education, which aims to enrich students with farm-to-table activities, environmental awareness, nutrition education and produce donations.

Teachers at St. Viator see the garden as a valuable learning tool, reinforcing where food comes from and the importance of sustainable gardening. In fact, they value the garden so much, that when the primary grades moved two years ago to the main campus, the garden moved with them.

The grant from the Viatorians helped with the additional costs of setting up the raised garden beds, installing drip tubing irrigation, providing additional soil needed because of the the desert’s hot climate and steel stakes to hold up plants.

Last year’s harvest yielded spinach, bok choy, radishes and lettuce, as well as corn and potatoes, herbs, strawberries and flowers. All of these vegetables were made available to school families hit hard by the pandemic.