One December, Anndee Crutcher, a supporter of The Foundry, invited her friend Holly Pickerel to tour the facility for Giving Tuesday. As Holly saw and heard the children in the gym, classrooms, and halls, she suddenly knew that a one-time fundraiser wasn’t the only way she wanted to be involved with The Foundry.

Holly, a former elementary school teacher and now a leader in a health company, has seen many programs and classrooms benefit from growing fresh, organic produce using aeroponic Tower Gardens. Before Holly even knew that health and fitness was one of The Foundry’s main pillars, she confided to her friend Anndee her hope that they might one day bring a Tower Garden to The Foundry. The very next week, The Foundry’s cafeteria manager at the time, Dani, said, “I should offer to educate The Foundry about Tower Gardens!” Holly’s eyes nearly popped out of her head, and she prayed, “Okay, God. I’m listening. Let’s make this happen!” Dani’s willingness to take the initiative set the wheels in motion, and the three ladies were soon bursting with ideas. Within only thirty days, the full cost for the Garden Tower had been donated to The Foundry.

Not only was Holly a key player in bringing a Tower Garden to The Foundry, but through her work with Juice Plus+, she had access to an excellent PreK-12 curriculum guide that she used to bring health and wellness classes to The Foundry. As students learned these lifelong concepts, they were also singing and dancing to songs about fruits and vegetables, coloring pages that show healthy food choices, learning the food groups, and getting exercise through plenty of movement and hands-on activities.

Holly said, “I deeply believe in teaching children to plant seeds and showing them how seeds develop into healthy food. Along the way, they’ll learn how healthy food can lead to better health and hope for a productive future. The power of a plant is this: HOPE! Growth! And transformation!”

Holly feels excited about teaching children healthy eating habits that could hopefully prevent diseases later in life. She understands, however, that children might balk at eating certain foods they haven’t tasted before. Holly explained, “Did you know that it can take up to twenty-one exposures for a child to acquire the palate for an unknown food? This means that while these babes aren’t eating spinach today, eventually, and with enough exposures, they will! But it takes willing, patient adults who are diligent to keep putting it in front of them.”

When asked how Holly has most seen God at work at The Foundry, she answered, “In my own heart. He is reminding me that if I will be faithful to plant the seed (both literally and figuratively), then He will bring the harvest. But that big, grand, exciting harvest of children with healthy bodies and minds fueled with phytonutrients and colors and an appetite for a plate full of fruits and vegetables starts with lots of small, simple, seemingly insignificant little seeds. I am honored to be a seed at The Foundry!”

God has an amazing way of growing harvests each year with the addition of new workers and additional “seed.” The Tower Garden story has continued in the 2020-2021 school year.

Ms. Allysa Benton, our Warren County preschool teacher, started a plant study with her students offering them the opportunity to see plants grow from seed. After starting them in the windowsill of her classroom, tiny plants moved into the Tower Garden for growth to maturity. The Tower Garden is located in the cafeteria where all The Foundry students can watch the plants grow.

Mrs. Shawna Wood, our Healthy Foundry Director, wanted to start tackling the issue of childhood obesity that is plaguing our youngest citizens in the West End. Part of her strategy is an education campaign in which the students learn healthy lifestyle habits, including eating 5+ servings of fruits and veggies each day.

As Holly shared when she brought the Tower Garden to The Foundry originally, children need lots of attempts and exposure to new tastes AND they are more likely to try these new things when they’ve been part of the growing process.

Ms. Leann Chapman came to The Foundry with all of her culinary talents and heart to enrich both our student’s plates and lives. She strategically creates menus which not only provide fresh fruits and veggies daily for our children, but to introduce them to new foods and tastes in kid-friendly ways.

Allysa, Shawna, Holly, and Leann are partnering to further develop the Garden Tower’s production so that all of The Foundry students can learn about and try not only a variety of greens, but other vegetables and herbs, too!

The Tower Garden is truly a picture of sustained partnership and growth – season after season!

The Foundry, Summer Newsletter 2021