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  • Incorporating School Gardens into the Elementary Curriculum: Owen J. Roberts School District

    Description

    A school garden provides many opportunities to support the school curriculum. Utilizing a garden in the curriculum adds value to the Farm to School program in the eyes of the community, school board, and staff. Additionally, these opportunities tend to be hands-on, and especially well-suited to all children, including those with disabilities. Our district has incorporated PDE nutrition guidelines into the science curriculum in grades K-3. The gardens serve as an outdoor resource and as a source of using food as a teaching tool.

    Kindergarten students plant pumpkins in the spring to be harvested by the next kindergarten class in the fall. Then, the new kindergarten students bake the pumpkins and make Pumpkin Soup. They read the story Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper, which provides a lesson on cooperation. They scoop the baked pumpkin flesh and wash and save the seeds and each student decorates a seed packet. They use measuring and counting skills to make the soup, and they learn about the nutrients provided by pumpkins. They investigate the Food Pyramid and decide where the pumpkin fits. The children also read a book by Elizabeth King called The Pumpkin Patch, which educates them on the seed-to-plant growing cycle.

    Prior to this exercise most of these children have only known the pumpkin as the source of the Jack-O-Lantern.

    The children delight in tasting the pumpkin soup, and they take the recipe home. They speculate whether parents and siblings will like it by using their predicting skills.

    Finally, in late spring, the kindergarten children get back the seed packets which they decorated in the Fall. They pull weeds, till the soil, and plant their seeds to grow pumpkins for the new kindergarteners to learn the same lessons they learned from the pumpkin patch.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Jo-an Rechtin
    Contact Person’s Title: Wellness and Communications Coordinator
    Email: jRechtin@ojrsd.com
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 469-5697

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Through garden-related activities, kindergarten students will learn lessons in Math, Science and Technology, Family and Consumer Science, Environment and Ecology, Health/Nutrition, and Community Outreach and Cooperation
    • Students will classify foods according to their senses.
    • Students will explain the difference between living and non-living things and classify seeds as living.
    • Students will explain where people get their food.
    • Students will state the importance of eating a varied diet.
    • Students will tell why we need to take care of the earth.

    Advice

    • Include parents in the projects.
    • Anticipate that some children will want to grow the pumpkins for themselves. They appreciate hearing about the worth of planting seeds for others.
    • Make sure the parents get a copy of the recipe in advance. Parents whose children have food allergies will appreciate this.
    • Make sure to have the children help with clean up at every phase.
    • Use suitable portion sizes for tasting (i.e. one to two ounces is plenty).

    Evidence of Success

    • Students have proven to be change-makers for their families. Some parents report that they had never tried pumpkin soup until their children recommended it.
    • Surveys indicate that nearly 70% of parents report that their children requested they make a food which they tried in kindergarten.
  • Teaching Nutrition Education with School Gardening: Valley Forge Middle School

    Description

    The Valley Forge Middle School has an organic school garden and students may sign up for an after-school club called “Healthy Kids in the Kitchen.” About 25 students do so each year and learn about gardening, cooking, and nutrition.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Sheri DeMaris
    Contact Person’s Title: Guidance Counselor
    Email: demariss@tesd.net
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 240-1325

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To teach fifth and sixth grade students gardening, nutrition, and cooking

    Advice

    • Promote the club via the school TV station, announcements, and signage.
    • The cost can be offset by selling items such as aprons, cookbooks, etc.
    • Search for healthy cooking and gardening grants and donations for seeds, etc.
    • Club members can be school advocates for healthy change (e.g. with competitive foods, by having taste tests, and suggesting new menu items).

    Evidence of Success

    • The club has been a success and students are eager to share their knowledge with their parents. At the end of the school year there is a nice picnic/party celebration and students attend with their families.
  • Farmer’s Markets, Recipe Contests, and Local Chefs Educate Students: Great Valley School District

    Description

    In 2007–08, we conducted a farmer’s market several times a month during lunchtime at the Great Valley Middle and High School. Retired teachers and students helped to present and distribute fruits and vegetables for tasting at no charge. Nutrition information was also available. In support of the farmer’s market, the family and consumer sciences classes conducted a recipe contest that required contestants to create healthful recipes for snacks and breakfast foods. The food service department then prepared the winning recipes and offered them as part of the National School Lunch Program. Local chefs visited the school and prepared their specialties for the students to taste.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Barb Nissel
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Supervisor
    Email: bnissel@gvsd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 889–2100

    Category

    • Nutrition Services

    Objectives

    • Expand the culinary horizons of the high school students.
    • Engage high school students in creating recipes for healthful snacks and breakfast foods.
    • Introduce the high school students to local chefs.
    • Aid students in learning about fruits and vegetables that are available on local restaurant menus.
    • Provide nutrition education in a unique way and provide healthier foods to students to improve their diets.

    Advice

    • Involve students in the distribution of the foods to be tasted.
    • Encourage student participation by having them create recipes for the food service department to prepare and serve.
    • Try to obtain a grant to support the purchase of taste–testing foods.
    • Be sure to advertise before taste–testing events.

    Evidence of Success

    • The students have inquired when the taste testing is going to start this year.
    • A local corporation asked us to reapply for their grant. (The grant has been awarded, and we restarted the market in January 09.)
    • Local restaurants have off ered their assistance again this year (2009).
    • The family and consumer sciences teacher is including the recipe contest as part of her curriculum this year.
  • Garden Club Promotes Farm to School: Rainbow Elementary School, Coatesville School District

    Description

    Rainbow Elementary School has had a school garden for over sixteen years. The Greenhouse Garden Club is an after school club that maintains the garden and has various activities. In addition to planting and harvesting the club engages students in such activities as taste-testing, story telling, and lessons on science, nutrition, and wellness.

    This year students who planted carrots last year in kindergarten were able to taste-test those carrots as first graders. The students also participate in other activities such as field trips, meeting and sharing their knowledge with other children (this year they met with Girl Scouts and their younger counterparts, the Daisies), winterizing the garden, and maintaining and improving the garden with items such as urns, planters, and shrubs.

    Their big activity, however, was incorporating a three-tiered indoor greenhouse, which will enable the students to start seedlings indoors to get a jump on the growing season, as well as to observe and learn about the life-cycle of plants from seed to harvest. In total, about 75 students are involved in the club.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Jennifer Chrisman
    Contact Person’s Title: Faculty Advisor for Elementary School Garden Club
    Email: chrismanj@coatesville.k12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 383-3780

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will learn about nutrition and healthy eating
    • Students will continue to learn about IPM-integrated pest management
    • The garden club students will continue to plant and maintain four raised bed salad gardens with the help of a newly installed indoor greenhouse

    Advice

    • Partner with another organization, such as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. This is especially beneficial in the summer months when students are not readily available to maintain the garden.

    Evidence of Success

    • This year there was another successful spring harvest which provided enough salad ingredients to feed over 100 students.
    • The after school garden club has continued to be supported by an enthusiastic school board despite budget cuts to other programs.
  • North Montco Technical Career Center Uses Garden Produce for School Meals and More

    Description

    North Montco Technical Career Center expanded its garden activities by having carpentry, horticulture, and culinary arts students work together to expand the school garden, implement taste testing, and develop new menu items that are sourced from the school garden.

    The carpentry students researched and built above ground planter boxes while the horticulture students planted, cultivated, and maintained the beds. Culinary arts students trimmed, harvested, and incorporated the vegetables and herbs and used them for taste tests and to prepare food for school meals from menus they also designed. Academic concepts specific to the school curriculum were integrated into the project.

    Once harvested the items were used for a series of five taste tests involving 15 students and eight members of the school staff. Items included spaghetti, roast chicken, pizza, meat loaf, and turkey dinner. The results proved that everyone could easily discern the superiority of garden-provided produce versus commercially-procured (and sometimes dried or processed) items.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Robert Lacivita
    Contact Person’s Title: Administrative Director
    Email: rlacitvit@nmtcc.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 368-1177

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will taste-test fresh garden produce against commercially purchased items.
    • Students will incorporate garden items into school meals.
    • Students and staff will work together to increase school garden planting.

    Advice

    • Incorporate facets of the school curriculum into the project.
    • Having students from various disciplines work together will foster a team atmosphere which may allow students to discover a new level of autonomy and capability.

    Evidence of Success

    • The school garden was expanded with new raised bed planters.
    • Produce from the school garden is being incorporated into the school meal program.
  • Wickersham Elementary School Uses Garden Produce for Taste Tests and Education: Lancaster School District

    Description

    Wickersham Elementary School students learned the importance of eating healthy, locally grown food, and about seasonal vegetables which grow in their area. Master Gardeners came to the school in the Fall and gave the students lessons on gardening. The students started vegetables from seed and transferred them to the garden. Items included spinach, beans, and root vegetables. In addition, the teachers involved in the garden committee developed a newsletter that included fitness tips, healthy recipes, and gardening tips. The newsletter is shared with parents and students. Once the vegetables were harvested they were used in various recipes for taste-testing during the school day.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Joseph Torres
    Contact Person’s Title: Music Teacher/Garden Champion
    Email: josephtorres@lancaster.k12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 291-6291

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will be engaged in a series of lessons about planting during the fall season.
    • Students will begin planting seeds indoors and transfer plants outside to the garden.
    • Teacher training will be conducted so that all staff and students are educated in the planting process.
    • Healthy snack recipes will be researched and product made available for taste testing.

    Advice

    • Have students research the most hardy seeds that will withstand a wet or dry Fall season.
    • Have students research healthy recipes and share their knowledge with their families.

    Evidence of Success

    • Students were able to use literacy, math, science, writing, and research skills which were integrated under the umbrella of Health and Wellness.
  • Northern Middle School Students Use Their Garden to Provide School Meals: Northern York County School District

    Description

    Northern Middle School in Northern York County wanted to introduce their students to the basics of food production and to teach them about nutrition and healthy eating. It was decided to utilize their greenhouse and have students research lettuces which could be effectively grown in this environment.

    Northern Middle School students planted colorful lettuces in their school's greenhouse and maintained the garden by watering, controlling pests, and harvesting the items. By continuously farming the greenhouse, even over the winter, the students were able to turn a crop in 40-50 days.

    Students then taste tested the greens and worked with the school food service staff to come up with menu items that were offered on the school lunch menu.

    In addition, these special, garden grown items were promoted by the students in the school via posters, morning announcements, etc.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Carol Richwine
    Contact Person’s Title: Horticulture Teacher/FFA Advisor
    Email: crichwine@nycsd.k12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 432-8691

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will plant and harvest colorful greens which will be used for school meals.
    • Students will coordinate with the school food service director to establish when meals featuring the garden greens will be served.
    • Students will promote the special meals within the school.

    Advice

    • Choose the highest seed quality and a commercial organic soil mix.
    • Build some simple beds using 2x4 boards and plywood bottoms.
    • Be sure to plant varieties of greens which are suitable for greenhouse production.
    • Involve the students in seed selection, taste testing, and meal promotion.

    Evidence of Success

    • Salads often sell out which creates more of a demand.
  • Forbes Road Career and Technology Center Embraces Exotic Vegetables

    Description

    After growing traditional school garden items such as lettuce, peas, and peppers Forbes Road Career and Technology Center students expressed a desire to try vegetables with which they were unfamiliar. Surveys revealed that the students wanted to taste test items that they perceived to be exotic or unusual such as parsnips and kohlrabi.

    Landscape Design students constructed beds and Horticulture students planted seeds. After the vegetables were harvested Culinary Arts students created items for taste testing. Currently the school's food service department is working on incorporating the more popular items into the school menu.

    The project sparked enough interest that it is being expanded and an Advertising Design teacher is working on a campaign with the goal of involving the community and including them in taste tests.

    In addition, the school is working on developing an Agricultural Food Production class which will include the school garden.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Daniel Overdorff
    Contact Person’s Title: Horticulture Instructor
    Email: dano@forbesroad.com
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 373-8100

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will sample a variety of unfamiliar vegetables.
    • The Landscape Design program will grow vegetables and fresh herbs in the Forbes Road greenhouse to be used in the Culinary Arts program.

    Advice

    • Gardens require constant maintenance even in the Summer, so plan accordingly.
    • Planning is also required to ensure that planting and harvesting go smoothly. Prepare a schedule of growing times.

    Evidence of Success

    • Planting and harvesting in the greenhouse is continuous and items are being sent to the Culinary Arts program at set intervals. Students have begun to purchase seeds on their own and have started gardening at home.
  • Greater Nanticoke Area School District Uses Garden Produce for Family Meals

    Description

    The Greater Nanticoke Area School District started planting seeds in its small greenhouse for use in the school garden. These seedlings were maintained and watered by elementary and high school students until they were ready to be planted.

    The district owns a tract of land adjacent to the high school which was originally used to farm vegetables. A 40 by 50 foot long section was used to grow vegetables and a raised bed was constructed to grow herbs. The maintenance department, several high school students, and the environmental science teacher worked together to prepare the area for tilling and the science department tested the soil and determined the proper fertilization needed.

    The garden consists of tomatoes, lettuce, bell peppers, herbs, cabbage, onions, and more. While school was in session during the Spring, several high school students and elementary students worked together to care for the garden by weeding and watering. Over the Summer watering was done by high school students working on their senior project, family center staff, family center volunteers, and the maintenance staff. They also helped to harvest the food that ripened over the Summer and Fall.

    The produce was taste tested by the administration staff and donated to the school's family center. They distributed the produce to families over the summer and early fall. This allowed them to serve nutritious meals at home.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Frank Grevera
    Contact Person’s Title: Director of Buildings and Grounds
    Email: pdw904@gmail.com
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 735-2453

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will empirically learn the process by which food goes from seed to table.
    • Students will receive better nutrition than they have in the past.

    Advice

    • Start with the basics but don't underestimate the students’ knowledge or desire to learn about nutrition and working with their hands and with others.
    • Make a plan to maintain the garden over the summer. It's always a challenge to water and weed the garden when school is not in session.

    Evidence of Success

    • There was ample produce harvested which was supplied to needed families. This helped to provide proper nutrition to all the families involved. A diverse group of individuals worked together for a common purpose and the result was worth the effort.
  • Penn Hills School District Students Learn Native American Growing Technique

    Description

    Penn Hills High School formed “The Garden Tribe,” named in honor of the school's mascot, the Indians. The group consists of high school students, teachers, and school board and community members. Their goal is to learn more about the history of different cultures using gardening as a teaching tool, and about better nutrition via healthy eating.

    The Garden Tribe started by learning the basics of the Three Sisters Native American growing process. According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together. This tradition of inter-planting corn, beans, and squash in the same mounds had been used by generations of native Americans to ensure a sophisticated, sustainable system that provided for long term soil fertility and a healthy diet for generations. Growing a Three Sisters garden was a great way for students to feel more connected to the history of the land, regardless of their ancestry. Many of the students who live in apartments, and did not have access to yards, learned square foot gardening.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Stefanie Raspotnik
    Contact Person’s Title: Professional Development and Funding Coordinator
    Email: sraspo@phsd.k.12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 793-7000

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will learn the history of the Three Sisters Native American gardening and crops and how it relates to healthy eating.
    • Students will learn the process by which food goes from seed to table, including planning, planting, caring for, and harvesting garden crops.
    • Students will learn to have an appreciation of intergenerational collaboration.

    Advice

    • Provide a structured forum for the school community (students, parents, teachers, administrators, and school board members), along with community residents, to share their own rich history and culture of gardening experiences.
    • Plan and communicate a schedule identifying garden responsibilities including a lead person assigned to garden-specific activities throughout the school year and summer. The lead person needs to ensure all maintenance is performed, especially if volunteers are scarce during the summer break.
    • Promote special garden events well in advance to ensure strong school and community support.

    Evidence of Success

    • A school board member stated that the Penn Hills School District's Garden Project was “a community gem” which enabled the students to embrace the opportunity to work with staff and community members to learn the basic techniques of gardening and healthy eating.
    • The Garden Tribe is collaborating on efforts to start gardens at both the district's elementary schools.
  • Vida Charter School Expands Garden and Uses it to Teach Students

    Description

    Students at Vida Charter School were involved in a variety of gardening activities. Students in grades 4-6, under the leadership of two science teachers, carried out experiments which involved exposing plants to varying amounts of light which was provided by an indoor light stand. They also planted tomatillo, pepper, and squash plants to transplant to the outdoor garden, and bean plants that the students later took home.

    Grades K-3, as part of a Healthy Lifestyles class started tomato, cilantro, basil, broccoli, cabbage, and pepper plants which were also transplanted into the outdoor garden. These were later sold at the spring family fair and also taken home by the students.

    Outdoors, students constructed two new 4'x12' raised garden beds, which doubled the outdoor garden space. Students transplanted seedlings that they had started indoors, as well as directly planted seeded lettuce, kale, spinach, and snow peas.

    Second graders, with the help of a college intern, assembled a tumbling composter which expanded the school's child-friendly composting system.

    Students at all grade levels enjoyed sampling the spring garden harvest which consisted of strawberries, lettuce, spinach, kale, and even the edible weeds lambs' quarters and purslane. Having the snow peas reach maturity a couple days before the end of the school year was a special treat, so the youngest students were able to see their crop through from seed to tasting.

    Community collaboration helped to make the gardening experiences strong. Support was given from both Gettysburg College students and volunteers from Everblossom Farm. Mini-grant funding also enabled 12 of Vida's students to participate in a cooking and nutrition course (six sessions) at the Adams County Arts Council this spring. They prepared foods with nutrient-dense ingredients, highlighting fruits and vegetables. This experience equips the participating students with skills to use foods which can either be grown by themselves or purchased from a local farm or market.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Cynthia Maldonado
    Contact Person’s Title: Executive Director
    Email: cynthiamaldonado@vidacharterschool.com
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 334-3643

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To maintain and expand the indoor and outdoor gardens at Vida Charter School
    • To allow students more opportunities in gardening
    • To use the school garden for classroom science study
    • To have plants for sale at family spring fair

    Advice

    • Start small and use what resources you have available.
    • Look for opportunities to expand your garden and include the community.

    Evidence of Success

    • Students are enthusiastic to plant, visit, and harvest the garden.
    • Students are willing to try items grown in the garden and are more likely to be adventurous when it comes to trying new foods.
    • The new garden now includes two new garden beds and a new composter.
  • Great Valley School District Offers Elementary Students Garden Fresh Taste Tests

    Description

    Great Valley School District uses local produce, often from their own school garden, to prepare items for their Farmers Market Taste Testing Program at their elementary schools. The samples are fresh, homemade, and free. Items sampled include mushroom soup, roasted broccoli and carrots, and sweet potato mash. The items are served free to students during lunch service with accompanying lessons on the nutritional benefits of the item being sampled. Feedback is encouraged from both students and staff.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Kelsey Gartner
    Contact Person’s Title: Nutrition/Garden Coordinator
    Email: kgartner@gvsd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 322-8037

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To induce positive changes in student perception toward trying new foods
    • To determine which recipes are well received and introduce them onto our regular cycle menu
    • To significantly reduce fruit and vegetable waste
    • To have teachers serve as role models by trying new foods in front of students

    Advice

    • Be aware of the food allergies of your students and plan accordingly.
    • Keep recipes simple and avoid items which contain common allergens in order to reduce concerns of parents, students, and staff.
    • If an item is not a hit try it again at a later date, possibly in a different form. Sometimes it takes several taste test experiences for students to decide they actually liked an item.

    Evidence of Success

    • After the kids taste the sample they are asked if they would buy the item if it were offered in the cafeteria. The mushroom soup received great feedback. Asking for verbal feedback will enable a school to see if it will be welcomed on the menu. Students are candid while giving feedback.
  • Union City Area School District Enlists Diverse Groups to Save School Garden

    Description

    Several years ago community gardens were built on the property of the Union City Area School District. The district was unable to garner enough community support to maintain the beds throughout the summer months and the gardens fell into disrepair. In an effort to save the gardens the school district implemented an Agricultural Education program within the high school. The students in this program, along with their Agricultural Education teacher, have organized a collaborative effort to care for the gardens over the summer.

    Various community groups, such as Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, youth groups, family volunteers, and school employees were recruited to maintain and harvest the garden during and after school and over the summer months. The students organized the schedule, assisted the volunteers, planted seedlings and transplanted them, inventoried and maintained the needed supplies, ensured that hoses were turned off, harvested produce, etc. All activities are conducted under the supervision of the Agricultural Education teacher. The program was designed to develop the leadership capabilities of the students, provide a valuable community service, and teach gardening to interested parties.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Joan Quickle
    Contact Person’s Title: Director of Curriculum and Special Programs
    Email: jquickle@ucasd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 438-3804

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To re-activate the community gardens located on school district property
    • To teach students leadership and gardening skills
    • To provide a valuable community service

    Advice

    • Get an early start on recruiting help and organizing the volunteers.
    • Use all available resources and enlist the aid of various community groups.
    • Don't forget family members and school staff.
    • The volunteers must have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and know whom to contact for assistance, if needed.

    Evidence of Success

    • Community feedback has been positive.
    • The project is on track. Materials have been purchased, seeds and seedlings planted, and the community has been organized. Further evidence will occur after the final harvest.
  • Upper Moreland Township School District Expands Existing School Garden

    Description

    The new food service director at Upper Moreland Township School District had little existing knowledge of gardening but she knew that she wanted to continue with and expand upon the existing school garden program.

    The district started with a Spring “Clean Up” project. A local landscaping business supplied three volunteer workers for a day to help clean out the entire garden which provided for a fresh start to the year. Fresh mushroom soil was purchased to ensure that the plants would have the necessary nutrients to thrive. The garden beds were outlined with pavers which were provided by Home Depot. The same company also donated most of the seeds and starter kits needed to begin the growing season. Twenty classrooms from grades K-2 volunteered to grow seeds in their classrooms. In the beginning of April all the classes started to grow a variety of flowers and vegetables, including marigolds, sunflowers, basil, pumpkins, watermelon, varieties of lettuce, peas, cucumbers, and spinach.

    The district was originally going to have a larger percentage of vegetables but wanted to keep the garden student friendly and ended up planting more cold crops so that they would have lettuce and herbs before students left in June before returning in the Fall to see pumpkins and watermelons. While the students grew plants in the classroom the district planted three fruit trees. Outside the garden are now planted one pear and two apple trees. In mid-May the district created a schedule for each classroom to come out for “Garden Days” in which they would re-plant their classroom produce into the garden. It took five days to finish all the planting. The students loved coming into the garden and learning as they planted. Several volunteers came to help out as well including Jackie Froehlich from the Bucks County Youth Center and Kelsey Porter from The Food Trust, both of whom shared their gardening experience with students.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Melissa Froehlich
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: mfroehlich@umtsd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 830-1522

    Category

    • Farm to School/School Garden

    Objectives

    • To work with students to expand the existing school garden

    Advice

    • Make sure you have teacher and staff support and enlist the aid of students. It would not be as fulfilling if the students did not participate in the planting and growing of the garden.
    • Make sure there is enough space in the garden for all of the classes that want to participate. A lot of plants need to be at least a foot apart from the next plant. With 20 classes of about 24 students each, this can be difficult.
    • Don't be afraid to ask for donations.
    • It's better to start small and expand than to attempt something that is too difficult to accomplish properly. The best idea the district had was to have the garden grow mostly when the students were in school.

    Evidence of Success

    • The garden is growing and is beautiful.
    • The students were excited to plant items in the garden.
    • The students show interest in the garden, ask about the garden activities, and have learned about gardens and cooking with herbs.
  • State College Area High School Students Grow Vegetables With Aquaponics

    Description

    Using aquaponics (a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water) helped students get “up close and personal” with growing produce without using a soil-based garden. They now understand that local food production can happen year-round and that aquaponics is easy to set up and use as a food producing system.

    Aquaponics was also used as a living ecosystem to demonstrate the biology, chemistry, and ecological concepts used in a high school biology course. First, a large (230 gallon) system was purchased. Next, each class built a small, desktop aquaponic system which was kept in the classroom. The larger system was used to produce food (mostly different types of lettuce) which was used throughout the school year in the school meals program. At the end of the year the fish (tilapia) from this system were harvested for an end of year celebration and the students enjoyed tilapia Po'boy sandwiches. The desktop systems didn't go online until later in the year and the students kept the fish for pets and took the greens home and planted them in their home gardens.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Jack Lyke
    Contact Person’s Title: Biology Teacher
    Email: jr111@scasd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 231-5020

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will be able to demonstrate how food, leafy greens, and fruiting vegetables can be grown with aquaponics in a small scale home-use system.
    • Students will be able to explain the nutritional differences between locally grown produce and produce shipped from out of state and farther.
    • Students will be able to describe the taste difference, involving several human senses, between locally grown produce and produce shipped from out of state and farther.

    Advice

    • Setting up a fish tank aquaponics system is easier than you think and students will gravitate toward the fish and plants growing in the system.
    • Use the aquaponic system to teach related lessons in biology, chemistry, and ecology.
    • Any advice needed to start a project like this can be on the Jack Lyke Facebook page called “Aquaponics at State High.” Just message Jack and he will help you get started.

    Evidence of Success

    • The kids adopted the system as their own and cared for the fish and plants. Fish were taken home by the students to place in their own fish tanks and ponds and growing plants were planted in home gardens when the school year was over.
    • Overall there were many great comments about using aquaponics in the classroom from students, and colleagues frequently stopped by to see the fish and plants.
  • Lehigh Career & Technical Institute Provides Career Training for Special Needs Students

    Description

    Special needs students enrolled at Lehigh Career and Technical Institute are able to enroll in a Seed-to-Plate program which helps them train for careers in food production and preparation. The program began with the input of a local farmer who helped students and staff with the planning and preparation of a school garden.

    The farmer gave the school helpful hints and techniques for garden preparation and maintenance including watering, insect control, and companion planting. The plants started under grow lights in a window that leads to the cafeteria. Hundreds of students pass the plants each day on their way to the cafeteria. This same hallway is home to the “Cafe Garden” which features raised beds and picnic tables so the students can witness the progress of the garden and be inspired to make healthy choices while on their way to lunch.

    The special needs students are involved in planting, maintaining, and harvesting the items which are used in a variety of salads and herb dressings. Herbs are used in the preparation of other items which are then served during the staff lunch period and in items used for bake sales. Proceeds are used to support additional funding needed for field trips to the nearby Rodale Experimental Farm and the farmer's market.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Sandra Himes
    Contact Person’s Title: Executive Director
    Email: himess@lcti.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 799-1322

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To provide special needs students with training for careers in food production
    • To expand garden space and grow vegetables and herbs to be used for on-site training and cafeteria purposes

    Advice

    • Involve area farmers or master gardeners-they are a valuable source of information.
    • Start with a small garden and use some plant plugs as well as seeds so students may experience a harvest before leaving for summer break.
    • Involve students in the planning, planting, harvesting, tasting, and creation of food items so they understand the “seed to plate” cycle.
    • Involve staff members in the project to give students support and feedback.

    Evidence of Success

    • Students take pride in their accomplishments.
    • Students talk about the project outside the classroom with other staff members, students, and their families.
    • Students are more aware of healthy food choices and are trying food items that are new to them.
    • Some students are creating gardens at home and trying recipes with their families.
  • Lancaster County Career and Technology Center Creates School Garden

    Description

    The LCCTC created two hydroponic tables (12'x4') and two tables (also 12'x4') of traditional, potted vegetables and herbs. The hydroponic tables included Boston Leaf Lettuce containing a total of 300 plants and two tables of potted plants with an assortment of 30 herbs and 50 vegetables. The hydroponic tables were customized into hydroponic systems by purchasing hoses and pumps and using pre-existing large tubs and the growing tables. Hydroponic float boards with holes to fit the net pots were used to put each plant in and set on the tables. The pumps are on timers that fill the table with water every four minutes and drain back into the tub. This occurs every 40 minutes. Every two weeks the water is changed and new nutrients are added. The potted plants are watered approximately every other day and must be watered last thing on Friday afternoon and first thing on Monday morning, since the building is closed on the weekends.

    Students were able to pick the leaves of most of the herbs to use in the culinary program for savory dishes and also to learn about how each herb interacts with heat, and tastes with other foods. By having the opportunity to taste, feel, and smell the fresh herbs, students have learned the differences and the value in these plants. The herbs included a variety of types including basil (five types), chives, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, stevia, thyme, and lemongrass. Students were also introduced to some less common vegetables including beets, bok choy, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, as well as the more common broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, onions, and spinach.

    The project will continue for the following school year with the idea of beginning early in the year to allow for additional harvest cycles and a wider variety of plants and herbs. A seasonal schedule will be developed as an expansion to the project.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Mike Moeller
    Contact Person’s Title: Special Projects Coordinator
    Email: mmoeller@lancastercts.edu
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 464-7050

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To create an indoor school garden by using the school greenhouse
    • To grow a variety of produce for the LCCTC culinary students to use in the classroom
    • To promote the use of fresh and locally grown products by having future culinary workers experience them first hand
    • To discuss and create multiple growing systems including traditional potted soil and hydroponic methods
    • To partner with local experts to teach students best practices for gardening

    Advice

    • Partner with local experts in planning the project. Seek out Master Gardeners, greenhouses, and farmers.

    Evidence of Success

    • The project was successful in developing a school garden that is being used to assist with a career and technical education culinary program.
    • The garden is teaching future chefs and bakers the importance of using fresh local products.
    • The project has increased local partnerships with other parties with similar interests.
    • The excitement of the project has spread to other campuses within the system as other programs are looking to purchase equipment to preserve, package, and distribute a “school brand” of produce.
  • Jamestown Elementary School Plants School Garden and Visits Farmer's Market

    Description

    Learning about gardening is a life long skill. Students at Jamestown Elementary School began the process by investigating how to garden, including methods of composting. Using books and the internet the students planned the project of building a school garden consisting of three raised beds. Before planting items in the garden the students learned about gardening from knowledgeable community members. They learned about seed selection, dirt preparation, cafeteria composting, growing, and tending to the garden. A team of “Garden Guardians” was assembled which tended to the garden over the summer. Students traveled to a local PA farmer's market in May and then returned for a harvest celebration in September, and harvested and tasted their own produce at the end of the summer.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Julie Harris
    Contact Person’s Title: Retired 6th Grade Teacher
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 720-7369

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will learn how to garden.
    • Students will visit a local farmer's market.

    Advice

    • Remember to constantly update information for students (e.g. posters, books in classroom, other information to promote the garden).
    • Try to give students hands on experience with actual farmers.

    Evidence of Success

    • Students pretest/post-test scores on gardening were improved.
    • Students were interested and enthusiastic about gardening and volunteered during recess and during the summer to work in the garden.
    • Students contributed to a PA Farm to School recipe booklet on nutritious farm foods.
    • There is now ongoing composting at the Jamestown Area Elementary School.
  • Hazleton Area Career Center Builds a School Garden

    Description

    Special Education students at the Hazleton Area Career Center successfully planned, planted, and harvested a school garden. Students researched various herbs and vegetables to determine which seeds would be most likely to flourish in our climate. Various math and science lessons were created around these concepts. The Culinary Arts instructor provided guidance and assisted in ordering seeds and materials. Construction Technology students built four raised beds which serve as the focal point of the garden. Items harvested by students include tomatoes, peppers, kale, okra, basil, and parsley. Harvested items will be used by Culinary Arts students to make and jar spaghetti sauce which will be served in the school's on-site restaurant. Plans are in place to expand the garden yearly, which will include a water feature and flowers. Building a greenhouse is also a goal in order to extend the growing season.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Angela Avillion
    Contact Person’s Title: HASD Transistion Liaison
    Email: avilliona@hasdk.12.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 233-7923

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To create a school garden

    Advice

    • A greenhouse will help extend the growing season. Students grew seeds inside until May, but even then, the weather is so unpredictable that the threat of frost kept them from planting outside until early June.

    Evidence of Success

    • Gardens beds have been constructed and produce has been harvested.
  • Burgettstown Area School District Creates High Tech School Garden

    Description

    Burgettstown Area School District turned an outdoor courtyard into a garden with raised self-watering beds. The original objective was to grow vegetables that could be used in Foods classes and by 4-H members’ projects. As the project started to take shape more interest was expressed from students who were observing the garden. Five students chose the garden as part of their senior graduation project. Four students are creating augmented reality learning stations for each plant.

    Using Aurasma (a web site for creating augmented reality pages), these seniors have created an interactive activity for each vegetable. When a garden visitor holds an iPad over the picture of the vegetable, on stakes in the garden, they are connected to a picture and recording of what the plant is. They learn nutrition information, planting information and see pictures of the plant when it is ready for harvest. Interest in the garden has grown and elementary teachers would like to be able to use the garden as a learning center not just for growing vegetables but also as an interactive learning lab.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Sharon Baillie
    Contact Person’s Title: Family and Consumer Science Teacher
    Email: sbaillie@burgettstown.k12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 947-8100

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To turn an outdoor courtyard into a garden with self-watering beds.
    • Students will grow vegetables that could be used in foods classes and by 4-H members as projects.
    • Special education summer program students will help maintain the garden.
    • To create an “augmented reality” learning station for each plant in the garden.

    Advice

    • The target pictures for the vegetables need to be simple with high contrast.
    • Both younger and older students like to visit the garden and try the app, so make sure the recording is appropriate for all age groups.
    • Keep the message short so visitors can view several plants.

    Evidence of Success

    • The original plan was to have the garden and raised beds. As the project progressed both students and teachers became more interested and contributed new ideas and effort and now the garden is becoming a classroom for both the elementary and high school students.
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