As students returned to the classroom at St. Viator Parish School in Las Vegas this year, they also returned to their outdoor classroom: the Grow With Me Garden. Located on the edge of campus, the raised garden beds were built by a Girl Scout in 2017 and when the school moved the primary grades across the street to the main campus, the garden moved with them.

One young student dusts the plants with pollen.

The prolific garden continues to produce hearty vegetables, such as onions, carrots, tomatoes, peppers, red potatoes, peas, spinach, lettuce and radishes.

Right from the start, St. Viator educators partnered with the urban farming nonprofit, Garden Farms of Nevada, whose mission is to help communities learn how to grow their own food in their own space, with the benefit of learning to grow sustainably in the harsh Southwest desert.

Its urban farmers visit St. Viator twice a month to meet with students and work with them in hands-on gardening projects. This week, one of its gardeners described the importance of pollination to students, before having them dust plants with pollen in order to boost the plants’ production.

St. Viator Parish School is one of more than 50 school gardens supported by Garden Farms, and the only Catholic school in the group. Members of St. Viator Parent Teacher Organization continue to support the garden project, as does the Viatorian Community, which awarded the school a grant in support of teaching children about sustainable gardening and just where food comes from.

Urban gardener Carissa Guffey distributes pollen to students.

The Viatorian Community has its own community garden on the grounds of the Province Center and after doubling its size last year, volunteer gardeners have combined to raise more than 1,500 pounds so far this year.

Caring for the earth, promoting sustainable gardening and feeding the hungry are all core values of the Viatorians.