HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN) — With dirt in one hand and a tomato in the other, elementary school students in Hillsboro are welcoming a learning garden to their school.

Quatama Elementary School won a contest called Project Learning Garden, which provides schools with raised garden beds, soil, seeds and tools.

Teachers are given lessons and activities to teach kids about nutrition, science and expanding their palates while taste-testing healthy foods harvested from the gardens.

School administrators said they weren’t surprised to see the kids excited about the vegetables all around them.

“Kids are naturally inquisitive, so it’s an exciting opportunity for them,” said Quatama Elementary School Principal Yolanda Coleman. “They’ve been engaging with the garden for the last couple of weeks in summer school.”

Students at Quatama Elementary School in Hillsboro learn how to chop vegetables after winning the Project Learning Garden contest. (KOIN)

Students also had the opportunity to chop some vegetables on a mobile cooking cart. The cart includes recipes, a cookbook and various kitchen equipment.

The contest was sponsored by Albertson’s Safeway, Dole Packaged Foods and the Captain Planet Foundation. The foundation has a small grant program to fund hands-on environment projects with schools and nonprofits across the country.

“More than 1.6 million children have directly participated in and benefited from these educational projects,” according to the foundation’s website.

School officials hope more students can use the learning garden as they return to campus in the fall.