While ghosts, ghouls and goblins are common creepy sights during the Halloween season, West Virginia State University (WVSU) Extension Service is focusing its agricultural efforts on creepy crops. With a $25,000 grant from the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA), youth in four counties will learn to grow, care for and harvest a variety of “creepy” vegetables.

The project will establish or add to existing school garden sites in Kanawha, Putnam, Cabell and Pocahontas counties, allowing youth to learn from and be involved in all aspects of garden maintenance and production.

“We’ve had great success in teaching youth about gardening but wanted to try something a little different, a little more fun, with this project,” said WVSU Extension Agent Jenny Totten. “We’re broadening our scope with kids by focusing on unusual crops that they may not have been exposed to before.”

Black radishes, purple carrots and golden beets are among the specialty crops kids will plant at the school gardens. The project’s goals are to increase interest in agriculture among West Virginia’s young people, as well as increase access to healthy, locally grown vegetables.

“We want children to be able to grow and eat their own food, and also be able to recognize more varieties of vegetables at farmers markets and in grocery stores,” Totten said. “The more educated our young people become about healthy food options, the more likely they’ll be to include them in their diet.”

Eleven projects totalling nearly $240,000 were awarded through the WVDA’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program, which helps to develop production and increase demand for specialty crops in West Virginia. The projects are funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered by the WVDA.