A new contest was introduced last Saturday at the 74th Stilwell Kiwanis Strawberry Festival. Adair County Strawberry Growers decided to host the Andrew Cain and Burl Doyle Memorial Youth Group Strawberry Growers contest. Last fall, members of the group including Miller Farms, donated 700 plants to Adair County schools and youth groups (4-H & FFA) in Adair County. Zion received 50 of those plants. Students planted them in two of the raised beds in the new school garden area and participated in all aspects of the growing process, including covering them during the record setting winter temperatures to prevent them from dying. The majority of the student body contributed to the care of the garden in some way, however the 5th grade class was most involved in the daily care of the strawberry plants. They covered and uncovered the plants several times to protect them from the weather, monitored for insects and pests, fertilized, watered, and put up mesh screens to keep birds and a big, fat groundhog from eating the ripening berries. (The culprit was caught on camera!👀) Five of the best berries were presented and judged on several factors including taste, presentation, Q & A session with the judge, uniformity, and several other attributes. Zion Schoo Garden/Zion 4-H placed first, Westville FFA received second, and Maryetta was third. Several other schools/groups received the plants, but many were destroyed by the weather. Zion received a plaque, blue ribbon, and $250 for their club. They would like to thank the following for the donation of the plants, hosting the contest, and providing mentorship for participating students and teachers: Miller Farms, Collyge Family Farms, OSU Extension Office and staff, Bobby and Jane Doyle, Stilwell Kiwanis, and the Zion janitoral/custodial staff that have hauled dirt, mowed, and cut weeds around the garden beds. A special thanks also goes to the fifth grade teachers and all the other teachers who readily allowed their students to participate. Please see the live feed for more pictures of the contest and students working in the school garden.