One School at a Time: El Campito wins $1,000 Martin’s grant

Published: Apr. 26, 2021 at 5:21 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Five-year-olds not only have a lot of energy, they have a strong interest in the world around them. At El Campito Child Development Center, the children are really interested in growing food in their garden.

What kinds of food?

“Ahhh, cucumbers!” said Amiel, a five-year-old student at El Campito.

Amiel and his friends, Jesus and Carmela have learned a lot about growing vegetables.

“You just have to put seeds all around in your garden, and just wait for them to grow,” said Carmela. “And then, Boom! They grow!”

There is a reason this garden is growing in this area of South Bend.

“This part of the garden we started last year just as a response to covid. And food insecurity in our neighborhood,” said Emily Hernandez, El Campito Child Development Center Director.

Hernandez was thrilled at how much the kids learned in just one season.

“A lot of our school age students planted and grew and helped water,” said Hernandez. “Our four- and five-year-olds came out and picked and tried the food in class. They sat out here on blankets and read books about gardening.”

And now with the help of the Near Northwest Neighborhood Association, this community garden is expanding to honor the founder of El Campito, Concepcion Nino.

“Mrs. Nino started El Campito in 1970,” said Hernandez. “It’s in her honor that we are going back to our roots you can say and putting things back in the ground.”

But that expansion will cost money and that is why the One School at a Time $1,000 grant from Martin’s Super Markets will help so much.

“We’re very excited about the thousand dollars because our dream is to put in fruit trees and a butterfly garden where butterflies can come and kids can explore that,” said Hernandez.

The program that Mrs. Nino started to help migrant children all those years ago is still at work helping little ones learn and grow.

“We still serve that same population. We have children here that their parents are still migrant farmers. So, it only makes sense that we continue to use those same principals 51 years later,” said Hernandez.

The old asphalt will be removed this month and an irrigation system will go in next month. If you would like to nominate your school for a Martin’s Super Market One School at a Time grant, click here.

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