by: PHOTOS BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Christine Jackson, director of programs at Jump for Joy Farm, repurposes Concord Elementary's school lunches into fare for Jimmy Dean, who's quickly grown to nearly 200 pounds.Citizens of Oak Grove, you’d better make way for Jimmy Dean.

When Concord Elementary School hosts its second-annual Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 20, the day will include the Trash for Peace group making a recycling bin from plastic bottles, students learning about composting, a plant sale and an “array of wonderful upcycled items” made by the school’s Green Team, which also will be collecting cans and bottles. Festivities take place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Concord Garden, 3811 S.E. Concord Road.

“All money raised will go toward the beautification of the Concord Garden,” said parent organizer Katy Preston.

But taking center stage will be a nearly 2-year-old porker named by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Jimmy Dean heads to Concord Elementary for an Earth Day event on Saturday with some of his supporting cast of Jump for Joy Farm's four goats, 15 chickens and five Muscovy ducks.Jimmy Dean, who’s coming to meet students on Earth Day, along with a supporting cast of animals from his farm in Beavercreek. His farmers repurpose Concord’s school lunches into fare for Jimmy Dean, who’s quickly grown to nearly 200 pounds.

Students at Concord would otherwise throw away an estimated average of 60 gallons of food every week.

“Jimmy Dean sure is some pig, and as our resident farm concierge, he is always ready for a visit,” said Christine Jackson, director of programs at Jump for Joy Farm, 15898 S. Springwater Road. “It’s nice to have a mascot on the face of recycling because then the kids relate and understand the importance of it. My only fear is that they’re not eating all of their lunches, but fortunately Jimmy Dean shares their love of junk food.”

Jimmy Dean doesn’t eat all of those 60 gallons, and he seems to prefer eating starchy foods such as discarded hot dogs, pizza, spaghetti and apples. But as he goes for his favorite piece of pepperoni, he’ll munch down stray celery stalks or carrot sticks. What he doesn’t eat goes to the farm’s four goats, 15 chickens and five Muscovy ducks.

“It works out really well, because he gets a balanced meal with all of those school lunches,” Jackson said.

Farm classes

During a visit to the farm last month, Jimmy Dean, who recently had been neutered and was unable to demonstrate his “famous sit trick,” seemed glad to have visitors during his recuperation. The farm offers field trips to area schools and a camplike atmosphere based on farm life. An open house is scheduled for April 27, and Saturday, May 4, is the second annual barn dance from noon to 4 p.m. with riding demos, a petting zoo, refreshments, contra dancing and other family activities.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to see the great full process of going from seed to table,” Jackson said. “There’s a great therapeutic value for kids to spend time with animals, who often scare them at first.”

But by the end of the day, most kids are saying they made lots of animal friends. Jackson sees some of the “biggest learning moments” when, for instance, kids at first think they don’t like kale, but then find they can’t get enough salty, spiced kale chips.

“Some kids are more into work, but you can turn it into a game or say that it’s part of the process, and if you don’t clean out some chicken coops, then you don’t get to collect any eggs,” she said.

Jimmy Dean is considered a pet, and his breed is not fit for eating, but other animals are slaughtered.

The farm also offers adult classes on skinning rabbits and plucking chickens, reducing your carbon footprint and running a small business.

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