NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — On any given day, sixth, seventh and eighth graders file into KJ Kite’s room at North Little Rock Middle School.
A few minutes into the class reveals that most of this coursework is done outside in the dirt.
The students are responsible for keeping up “The Farm,” an outdoor garden adjacent to the school.
Fruits and vegetables produced in The Farm are donated to homeless students or homeless families.
“Well, there’s always something to do,” sixth-grader Hunter says.
“You do one thing, but then another job pops up.”
Kite, who heads up the EAST program and facilitates The Farm, lets the kids take the reigns.
“It’s not just about going and doing and getting dirty,” Kite says.
“It’s about actually belonging to something and having ownership in that.”
Last weekend, The Farm endured a bit a storm.
More than $5,100 worth of garden tools and equipment were stolen from The Farm’s shed.
Tire marks outline the thieves’ getaway trail.
“They stole from kids and kids who want to learn more about the farm and how they can help people,” eighth-grader Chloe says.
Ms. Kite says some of the students were in tears when she told them about the theft.
Some of that emotion has since spilled over to her.
“For them to be violated like this, it just tears me up,” Kite says, holding back sobs.
“Because they worked so hard for what they did.”
Despite the setback, the work continues.
The lesson now is: it’s just a bump in the soil.
Brighter days are ahead.
“You carry on, you perservere,” Kite says.
“Because you’re doing things for the greater good.”
So far, The Farm has produced and donated nearly 1,400 pounds of food for families in need.
A weed-eater, hose, trash can, tool set and other items were among the equipment that was stolen from the shed, according to a police report.