Students involved in the Troy Howard Middle School garden project are inviting the public to join in a celebration of school-grown produce this weekend, when the youths will be showcasing the fruits — and vegetables — of their labor.

As part of a statewide initiative organized by the fledgling organization, the Maine School Garden Network, students involved in the THMS garden project will be on hand Saturday, Oct. 1 to guide tours of the garden, said THMS Agricultural Coordinator Jon Thurston.

The THMS gardens have grown a good deal since they were first planted during the 2001-2002 school year. The spread now includes attractions such as chickens, composting bins, a greenhouse and an outdoor kitchen, features that THMS eighth grader Chase Hanson highlighted when taking VillageSoup on a pre-event tour Friday, Sept. 30.

While guiding the walk-through, Hanson talked about his own experiences with being involved with the school garden — he started working with the garden project team as a seventh grader.

He said he likes being able to work outside and in groups with his fellow students, but his favorite part of his involvement has been the annual trips to the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity, where produce grown in the THMS garden typically brings home several first- and second-place honors — this year was no different.

Hanson said he most enjoyed going to the fair as an eighth grader because he was able to help plant the prize-winning produce in the spring, and to watch it grow.

“In the greenhouse, we sell Swiss chard to the [Belfast] Co-op,” he said as we passed the beds of greens. Hanson added that the school garden grows that particular crop because to fill a need in the community. The garden project aims to work with local vendors and farmers instead of competing with them.

“We’re just doing this to learn,” Hanson said.

The school garden open house will take place Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., during which tours and snacks will be provided to the public. The Farm Stand will also be open all day selling various produce from this year’s garden.