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Student gardens grow life lessons

The seed of an idea harvested by special-education teacher Irene Mazell has grown into a first-of-its-kind program in the state.

Ashley Ridge High School is the only school in South Carolina permitted to sell its student-grown produce in the cafeteria. And what makes that even more special is Mazell’s special-needs students are responsible for tending the on-campus garden that has generated more than 400 pounds of produce. The students are disabled teenagers who can’t earn a diploma and are in school to learn how to live more independently.

“We are learning,” Mazell said. “But the main thing is the students are learning life lessons. It’s a great experience with a great yield.”

The Dorchester District 2 school garden is one of the more than 20 in the Lowcountry that are cultivated by students to grow fruits and vegetables. Some do it as part of a formal state program, while others have forged community partnerships to make it happen.

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