SOMERS POINT — A row of 5-gallon buckets behind St. Joseph’s Regional School is providing a lesson in economics long after the last class dismissed for the summer.

Third-grade students began an herb and pepper garden from seed in the early spring under the direction of volunteer Bernie Laleyan, of Egg Harbor Township. Classes may be over for the summer, but the garden is thriving and the students are still involved and learning new lessons.

Any good farmer knows, it is one thing to plant a garden, it is another to tend it and harvest it at the right time. Laleyan has a group of students who have volunteered over the summer to check on the garden and pick the herbs and peppers when they are ready.

While the peppers have a way to go before they are ready, the herbs are at their peak. Last week, a team of four met at the garden to pick, package and deliver the fragrant herbs to a paying customer and community partner, The Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Co. on Laurel Drive.

They picked sweet basil, purple basil, thyme, rosemary, chives and garlic chives. The restaurant wants to use locally sourced food as much as possible, and they want to support the school program. The money the restaurant pays for the herbs goes to St. Joseph’s.

Principal Ted Pugliese pointed to the garden as a success story for the school. He said the garden, like many other programs at St. Joe's, offers students invaluable experiential learning opportunities and a chance to be involved.  

The young farmers will make many more trips to the garden over the next two months. The peppers will be ready to harvest later in the summer, and Laleyan is seeking new clients looking for fresh-from-the-garden vegetables.

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