Holloway High Students Hope To Fill Neighborhood’s Fresh Food Void

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Students enrolled in Sydney Buvvaji’s plant science class at Holloway High School are working to improve the surrounding neighborhood’s access to fresh fruit and vegetables.

They are using the school’s outdoor garden space to grow vegetables such as broccoli, squash, and carrots. Inside the greenhouse purchased last school year, herbs grow alongside marigolds and tulips.

“It’s a very unique situation. Locals don’t have the proper exposure to fruits and vegetables and healthy food,” Buvvaji said. “Our goal here is to have to the students help create an urban garden and partner with Patterson (Park Community Center) to have that food distributed to the visitors.”

Holloway is located on the edge of downtown Murfreesboro in an area commonly referred to as a food desert. The U.S. Department of Agriculture no longer uses that term but does consider the area as low income and low access. Access is determined by the distance (one-half of a mile or a mile for urban areas) to a grocery store with 10 or more checkout lanes.

As the weather becomes more spring-like, Buvvaji and students work in the outdoor garden adjacent to the basketball and pickleball courts at the community center, which is next door to Bradley Academy, a K-6 school operated by Murfreesboro City Schools.

Braydon Johnson, a Holloway junior, was among the students Buvvaji took to visit with kindergarten classes at Bradley Academy.

“We used some of what we grew to make salsa for them. We read them a book and helped them plant their own tomatoes to take home and grow with their family. The kids seemed to enjoy it and we did, too,” Johnson said. “So many people are going to be helped by this.”

In the coming weeks, the school will be receiving a donation of used tractor tires from the state to use as raised garden beds, Buvvaji said.

“That plays a role in what we’re doing in environmental science as our school finds ways to be more considerate of the environment,” Buvvaji added. “I really love teaching this and love seeing the students’ enthusiasm and how hard they work.”

Holloway will hold a plant sale on April 5. Proceeds will help cover the cost of gardening expenses for the next school year.