A.B. Perk knows how to make a garden grow and prepare delicious food from its produce. A.B., which is short for Annabella, is a sixth grader at St. Jude the Apostle School.
Dyslexia and dysgraphia make reading and speech difficult for A.B., but she has always been able to use cooking utensils with ease. “She started cooking when she was young as a way to practice those fine motor skills without her realizing she was practicing,” says Michelle Perk, A.B.’s mom.
A.B.’s interest in gardening began at the farmers’ market, specifically helping with a local farm’s booth. In a short three years, her own garden has expanded from a few mop buckets to a yard full of raised garden beds.
“It started as I wanted to do what they’re doing at the farmers’ market,” A.B. says. “And I wanted to expand on that and see different flavors that I like. I didn’t realize there was so much variety.” The garden’s benefits for A.B. are many, including developing patience and dealing with failure.
While her garden is the focus of much of A.B.’s energy, she is also an athlete and advocate. Michelle’s mom recently died after a long battle with cancer, and Michelle and A.B. work with their Kids Fighting Cancer team to raise money, this year more than $50,000.
“As a mom, what makes me so proud is that when she could look at something and say, ‘This is harder for me, I give up;’ instead she looks at it and says, ‘It’s harder for me, so let me do it anyway,’” Michelle says.