How much produce can $5 buy?

HARLINGEN – The beds are thick with kale, cabbage, onions and carrots.

What happens after they leave the gardens at Lee Means Elementary?

Felix Rodriguez’s fourth graders will find out Saturday at the Harlingen Farmer’s Market on N. A Street when they purchase $5 worth of produce from local vendors.

“It’s going to be exciting because I have never done this before,” said 9-year-old Adam Sanchez. “I have never been to the Farmer’s Market,” he said excitedly. “I have never gotten to buy produce that’s good for your body.”

Adam and his classmates have been tending several gardens since the fall as part of the Learn, Grow, Eat and GO program, a new research and evidence-based curriculum. Elementary schools across the district are following the curriculum while engaged in their own separate projects.

The program’s many purposes include broadening children’s understanding of the science they’re studying in class. The children get to see plants growing, and Rodriguez thought he’d use the project to teach them money management.

“I want them to buy whatever they want,” Rodriguez said. “They get the lesson in money discipline, how to budget $5.”

Rodriguez has even turned it into a sort of spy mission. Each $5 – from his own pocket – is attached with a card reading, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to spend $5 at the Farmer’s Market, cook something healthy with your family, send me a picture of what you cooked …”

The kids are excited about tomorrow’s adventure.

“We’re learning how to spend money,” said Maya Monriel, 10. “We’re making some money,” added Carolina Kortan, 9. “We’re having fun in the kitchen with our families.”

A trip to the Farmer’s Market tomorrow from 3 to 4:30 p.m. will also connect the children with vendors who can teach them more about gardening.

“You can talk to people and ask is there a better way to plant tomatoes,” Adam said.

At the end of the year, Rodriguez hope the children can pick produce from their own gardens and prepare them to eat right there.

“I’m also a cub scout master and I’ve got these cook stoves,” he said. “I’d like to harvest broccoli, pick it right there from the plant and steam it right there.”

If You Go

WHAT: Harlingen Farmer’s Market

WHERE: N. A Street between Jackson Street and Monroe Avenue

WHEN: Tomorrow, Saturday

TIME: 3 – 4:30 p.m.

What is the goal?

The Learn, Grow, Eat and GO program focuses on nutrition, said Jessica Hruska, special program and grants specialist for the Harlingen school district.

“Basically, the goal is to provide each student with the experience of growing their own food so each campus will have their own garden,” Hruska said. “In addition to that, they’ll be learning about nutritional value, making nutritional choices as well as supporting their academic standards at both science and writing.”