Third-graders at Mead Hall earned their green thumbs at the Aiken County Historical Museum on Thursday after cultivating a community garden with the help of a local Master Gardener.

Julie McLain’s third grade class explored the garden and assisted Kathryn Darwin, a Master Gardener, with the planting of lettuce, beets, carrots and other vegetables.

Darwin said she felt the students were able to accomplish a lot during the afternoon, especially with the excitement of being outdoors on a school day.

“It’s really good for them to put a little seed in the ground and come back and see that you can get food out of it,” Darwin said. “That’s always fun and seems to fascinate students of all ages.”

McLain said the garden provided her students with a “great opportunity” to learn outside of the classroom and gain real-world knowledge.

One of McLain’s students, Sarah Fluery, said the day was “really fun” and helped to grow her interest in planting and growing vegetables.

Chloe Biddle, another student, said she also enjoyed the day, particularly the chance to get some fresh air outside and learn more about gardening.

Elliott Levy, executive director of the Aiken County Historical Museum, explained that he hoped the outing also helped to reinforce life lessons learned in the classroom.

“I wanted the young kids to learn that while the tomatoes, for example, were different colors and different shapes, they were all still tomatoes,” he said, noting the parallels and life lessons students and even adults could learn about each other.

He also pointed to the history of Marie Cromer’s tomato clubs, one of the first agricultural clubs for tomatoes in the country, which actually began in Aiken County in the early 1900s.

“That was actually the beginning of 4-H right here in Aiken County,” he said, adding this was similar to that program since it brought the community together and helped to offer a variety of life lessons.

Mead Hall volunteer Phyllis Sorensen also applauded the efforts of the community to come together and participate in special occasions such as Friday’s event.

“This collaboration has helped the students see and learn life skills such as working together, helping each other, as well as the discovery of the arts and museums,” Sorensen said.

• Michael Ulmer covers the county government beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since March 2013. He is a native of North Augusta and majored in political science at the University of South Carolina.