As the weather begins to warm, gardeners are beginning to break ground on another planting season.

As the weather begins to warm, gardeners are beginning to break ground on another planting season.

And students did the same Tuesday at the John S. Charlton School, a program in the Caesar Rodney School District that educates special needs students from throughout Kent County.

That’s when about a dozen students planted tomato and pepper seedling that they hope to harvest at the end of the season for ingredients to be used in their own tomato sauce.

The new project is an opportunity to teach students about where food comes from and how to be self-sufficient, Assistant Principal Todd Simpson said.

“We may have a student out there that just really enjoys gardening, but may not have had the opportunity to do so before,” he said. “A lot of our students have recreation and leisure goals, and a lot of those post-graduation outcomes focus on what are you going to do in your recreation time. We’re hoping some kids will develop an interest in gardening and growing and they can be able to participate in something like that life long.”

The program is the brain child of Charlton teacher Deb Goerger, who says she wanted to start a garden for her students.

But the project has grown far beyond just one classroom and now involves some of Charlton’s youngest children up through their college-age students.

In May, the seeds were started indoors in one of Charlton’s satellite classrooms at W.B. Simpson Elementary. Since then, the plants have done so well that they’ve ended up with more seedlings than they have room in three raised garden beds that were built on the school grounds by district maintenance workers and some of Charlton’s older students.

“It’s something anybody can do,” Simpson said. “Anybody can have a small garden, even in an apartment. I’m hoping all that connects with process of putting this together.”

Charlton is in session year round, so students will continue to tend the garden over the summer.

As the produce is harvested, it will be frozen and stored at Charlton until the school’s older students use the homegrown vegetables to make tomato sauce, which will then be canned and decorated with a label created by Charlton’s middle school students.

The cooking and canning will be done in Humble Beginnings Catering’s commercial kitchen at T.A. Farms in Wyoming.