Child’s desire to help homeless takes root with plant fundraiser

A news report about a girl in another state who grew a garden to feed the homeless inspired Loma Elementary fifth-grader Talon Chatfield to do the same.

Unfortunately, Talon saw the report in January, and a counselor at his school, Connie Robbins-Brady, didn’t believe the garden could be grown before the boy left the school in May.

After some brainstorming, Robbins-Brady asked Talon, age 11, if he would consider growing starter gardens filled with herbs and vegetables fit for a spaghetti dinner. The school’s fifth-graders would grow the items from seeds to a few inches high before selling them in May as a fundraiser for a local service agency.

Talon agreed, and the school has been gathering seed donations from students and community members ever since. The school’s fifth-graders decided to call the project “Talon’s Spaghetti Garden.”

The starter gardens, which will include items such as basil and Roma tomatoes, will benefit Homeward Bound homeless shelter, the Kids Aid backpack program for hungry students, Catholic Outreach, Child & Migrant Services or another local agency dedicated to feeding or serving the needy. Or, the agencies could share the proceeds. The decision has been left up to Talon Chatfield.

The price of the starter gardens, which will be planted inside the school next week and after spring break, has not been set. Robbins-Brady predicts a selling price of around $5.

“I’d love to have it done by Mother’s Day,” Robbins-Brady said. “It’s a nice little gift, and it means we can have it wrapped up before the end of the year. It’s a nice transition for the fifth-graders before leaving for middle school.”

Talon said he would like younger students to continue the tradition and expand it after he leaves Loma Elementary.

“It’s a role model for them so they can do this when they’re in fifth grade,” he said.

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