Students at Summit Elementary in Butler, Pennsylvania, are growing more than their minds. Under the guidance of longtime teacher Angela Eyth, they've created a bountiful garden to benefit people in need at nearby Broad Street Elementary, whose neighborhood lacks fresh-produce options.
"The kids are in charge of everything," Eyth says. "They're so proud of what we're doing here."
The project is now two years old, and goes beyond planting and growing: Eyth and her fellow educators structure lessons in science, math and more around their garden.
"When we grew kale my students noticed something was eating the leaves," Eyth recalls. "This led to an investigation on figuring out what was eating it and how to stop it: the kids analyzed the evidence they found and acted as engineers in creating ways to keep critters out of the kale beds. In 4th grade, we take the students outside to estimate the number of bean pods they find or measure the perimeter of the pumpkin section."
Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.
She continues, "People think gardening should be separate from core subjects but it's far from the truth. The kids' curiosity keeps it rolling."
The kids also keep the produce rolling — so much so that with a $70,000 grant from Remake Learning/Grable Foundation, they're building a farmstand at Broad Street Elementary that will ultimately bring fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and more to an area of their community considered a food desert.
"People will be able to go there and reap the benefits of the harvest," says Eyth of the city school, just five miles away from the more rural Summit.
This year's crop included corn, peas, beans, carrots, turnips, squash and pumpkins; plans are in place to keep expanding in the years ahead with items like Christmas trees, a sunflower patch and a pollinator garden.
"It's amazing when you start with a small idea and it can grow," Eyth says, "no pun intended!"