Getting Their Hands Dirty

TMMMS team members plant produce garden for local school 

May 29, 2018
Volunteers from Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi (TMMMS) recently spent a day in the dirt.

They teamed up with second graders from Tupelo’s Joyner Elementary School to plant a “Discovery Garden” of beans and squash.

Paint Shop Specialist Nathan Thompson helped organize the event.

“We had a really good time,” he says. “I wanted our team to feel like they have a bigger purpose than just coming to work and leaving. We got out there and were able to affect other people’s lives outside of Toyota, and show them what we can accomplish as a team.”
Planting Discovery – TMMMS volunteers spent the day planting a “discovery garden” at Joyner Elementary School in Tupelo, Mississippi.

The project was planned together with Growing Healthy Waves, a local nonprofit that teaches children the importance of nutrition and healthy eating. The food grown from the garden will eventually be used in the school’s cafeteria for student lunches.

“I want children to understand where their food comes from,” says Growing Healthy Waves Coordinator Donna Loden. “I want them to know there’s more to food than buying it from the grocery store. If they take a seed and put it in the ground, water it and weed it, it will grow. And if they grow brussels sprouts, they’re going to try those brussels sprouts, because they took care of those brussels sprouts! It goes back to giving someone a fish, versus teaching them how to fish. I want to teach them how to fish.”

Once the crops are harvested, students also learn how to prepare and cook them.

“We also do lessons in the classroom with them,” says Sara Murphy of Food Corps, another nonprofit involved in the project. “To have them grow the food and have these lessons in the classroom and tie it into the cafeteria is setting them up for success in the future.”
Let’s Rock – In addition to planting a produce garden, TMMMS volunteers also cleaned up and revamped a rock garden on the Joyner Elementary campus. 

It’s not the first time Toyota has partnered with Growing Healthy Waves. Toyota also donated grant money to the nonprofit, which has been used to buy children’s gardening equipment and build an educational greenhouse.

“This is about making our community the best it can be,” Loden says. “Toyota has been such a wonderful partner. They’ve really jumped in to help, and shown the community they are about so much more than cars. We love this partnership.”
By Kristen Orsborn

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