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  • Colonial School District Joins Chefs Move to Schools: Colonial School District

    Description

    In May 2010 the Colonial School District broke ground for their school garden. Support was provided by students, community members, school board members, and district staff. The garden consists of tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, poblano peppers, various herbs, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, and more. The produce has been used in school cafeteria menus.

    Colonial School District is participating in the Chefs Move to Schools initiative (http://www.letsmove.gov/chefs-step-1.php). A local chef, using produce from the school garden, has created new menu items for the students to sample. The most popular items are recreated by the food service staff. A favorite is a spicy Asian turkey burger which is made with lettuce and scallions from the school garden. Additionally, a cooking show is being shot in the school with the chef and will air on the district’s local cable channel. This series will feature nutritious, easy to prepare recipes which are family friendly. The idea is to not only serve nutritious meals in school but to encourage and make it easy for families to offer nutritious food at home as well.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Lori McCoy
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: lmccoy@colonialsd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 824-1670 Ext: 8205

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Student health will improve because of increased consumption of nutritious locally grown school foods.

    Advice

    • Show your enthusiasm for the project, collaborate with other departments to help make your vision a reality, and incessantly promote the program.
    • By promoting the program you will be able to enlist the aid of community volunteers who will be happy to assist with planting and maintenance of the garden.
    • Consider the Chefs Move to Schools initiative and reach out to local chefs. Don’t expect them to come to you.

    Evidence of Success

    • Positive feedback about the fresh fruits and vegetables
    • Keen interest in the cooking show
  • Partnering With Local Non-Profit Groups to Maintain School Gardens: Owen J. Roberts School District

    Description

    Every school that features a garden faces the problem of summer maintenance. In order to ensure the sustainability of their school gardens, Owen J. Roberts School District has formed mutually beneficial partnerships with local non-profit groups.

    North Coventry Elementary School has partnered with the Triskeles Foundation’s Food For Thought Program (http://triskeles.org/index.php?page=food-for-thought). Teens work the gardens in the summer and learn skills such as gardening, cooking, and taking food to market.

    West Vincent Elementary School and the Owen J. Roberts Middle School have partnered with the Chester County Food Bank (http://chestercountyfoodbank.org/). The schools have 12 raised bed gardens that help to feed the hungry in their school district. The Food Bank contributed technical assistance, guidance, low-cost soil and wood. In exchange, the school has pledged that sixty percent of the garden’s produce will go to the North Coventry Food Pantry (http://www.northcoventry.us/webspages/foodpantry.html), which was never able to offer fresh, whole foods for distribution prior to this partnership. The Food Pantry appointed a Volunteer Garden Coordinator to help volunteer garden workers tend, harvest, bag, and distribute the food from the school garden. The remaining food is used for nutrition education. The garden offers students lessons in mathematics, science, family and consumer sciences, and special projects for disabled and autistic students.

    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

    • The school garden will be maintained year-round.

    Advice

    • Reach out to local politicians, churches, service organizations, and food cupboards.
    • Grow food which can be stored for long periods.

    Evidence of Success

    • The North Country Gardens (16 beds) have produced plenty of food for school, program, and gleaning purposes.
    • When the students return in the fall there are strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, and onions.
  • Utilizing the School Garden as a Learning Lab: Rogers Primary School, Shaler Area SD

    Description

    Rogers Primary School’s garden has been carefully planned so that lessons which were previously taught in the classroom can now be presented in a new and natural environment. Students are learning about their eco-system and how it relates to the food supply. They are gaining hands-on experiences with composting, sustainable agriculture, how food is grown, and the processes that are involved in bringing food to the table.

    In addition to these science-oriented lessons, the garden provides an environment for learning mathematics, reading, nutrition, art, Social studies, music, and physical education. The garden area consists of the following:

    • A greenhouse which allows the students to grow flowers and vegetables.
    • Trails with various types of observation areas. These include different types of gardens (e.g. butterfly, herb, vegetable, and flower) and plant identification signs.
    • A teaching area with benches for students and a table which the teacher can use for teaching and lab work.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: David Lippert
    Contact Person’s Title: Teacher/Project Coordinator
    Email: lippertd@sasd.k12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 492-1200

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To teach students gardening skills
    • To utilize a garden environment to teach required curricula
    • To unite the school with the local community

    Advice

    • Define exactly what you hope to accomplish with a garden and plan accordingly.
    • Incorporate the teaching of required lessons with garden activities.
    • Allow enough time to promote the project and to enlist help from members of the community. By recruiting and inspiring local community members you can build momentum for the project which can snowball.
    • Apply for grants.
    • Home improvement stores are often willing to provide material, financial, and labor assistance.
    • Community members can donate time, money, seeds, plants, materials, and specialty knowledge.
    • Document the progress of your garden (e.g. take before and after pictures and home movies). This can be used for marketing purposes later.

    Evidence of Success

    • The garden is being utilized as planned: to teach math, science, and other subjects from the school’s curriculum.
    • The students enjoy physical activity during garden experiences.
    • Community members became involved in the construction and care of the garden.
    • A Garden Committee is forming in order to ensure the promotion and sustainability of the garden. Each grade will have a student representative on the committee along with other representatives from the school and community.
  • Elementary Students Help Seniors in Their Vegetable Garden: Spring Grove Area High School, Spring Grove ASD

    Description

    This high school garden project was conducted by seniors enrolled in an honors Environmental Science class. They enlisted the aid of two groups of elementary students; third graders and special needs students. All of the students engaged in email and Skype discussions about garden planning during the fall and winter. Eventually the seniors visited the elementary students, who became known as their “veggie buddies,” to color pictures of vegetables and to explore seed catalogs.

    By March the seniors were building four raised beds for the garden and filling them with compost and topsoil. Sowing seeds was a soggy experience with 2011’s record spring rainfall, but each class of veggie buddies twice visited the seniors’ garden to do just that.  Many seeds were washed away, but the students were satisfied they did a good job when they eventually saw plants poking up through the soil.

    While school was in session during the spring, the seniors and the elementary students worked together to care for the garden by weeding and watering. Plans for the future of this garden include:

    • Summer watering and weeding by student and parent volunteers, led by the seniors who recently graduated.
    • Summer volunteers will also enjoy the harvest of foods that ripen over the summer.
    • In the fall, extra food from the garden will go to the Family and Consumer Sciences department for use in their kitchens.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Celeste Barnes
    Contact Person’s Title: Teacher, Environmental Science
    Email: barnesc@sgasd.org
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 255- 4731 Ext: 7231

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will use compost, leaf mulch, heirloom seeds, and no chemicals to create an organic vegetable garden on the school campus.
    • Senior science students will collaborate with students from the nearby elementary school to plan, create, and maintain the garden and to eat the foods they grow.
    • Extra food from the garden will be used in the high school’s Family and Consumer Sciences kitchens.

    Advice

    • Start seeds during the winter to get a jump on the growing season.
    • Promote parent involvement, especially with the younger students. Some parents may be able to contribute their knowledge and experience with gardening. Families’ investment in the success of the garden could especially benefit during the summer, when school is out and the garden should be going strong.

    Evidence of Success

    • The students are diligently caring for the plants by weeding and watering them regularly.
    • Shared gardening experiences (e.g. getting muddy, losing seeds, pulling weeds) bonded the younger and older students to each other and fostered a common interest in gardening.
    • Volunteers were recruited including members of the Future Farmers club who offered to help with the garden during the summer.
  • Students’ Community Garden Day Cultivates Interest: Propel EAST, Propel School

    Description

    Propel EAST is a Kindergarten through eighth grade school with a total enrollment of 400. Third graders who were studying plant growth and development planted and maintained a garden at the school. The garden served as a learning environment for the students, who then shared their knowledge with others. This sharing was conducted during a two-hour event in May that they’ve named Community Garden Day, to which the students’ families and the entire community were invited.

    Propel’s 30 third and 50 eighth grade students were in charge of planning and conducting this year’s Community Garden Day activities. They were assisted by the third grade classroom teacher, the school’s science coach, and a few other staff members. Propel EAST students also benefitted from the help of four high school students from the Propel Braddock Hills school. Along with their ornithology teacher, these high school students assisted with building “recycled” hummingbird feeders, and that earned credit for them toward a service learning requirement.

    In October the students formed committees to plan hands-on Community Garden Day learning centers. These centers allowed them to demonstrate and share what they had learned about gardening. Planning was intense for third grade students, but they did a great job! Center topics included water barrels, composting, seedlings, unconventional garden beds, and hummingbirds. Students distributed seed-starting baskets to families, and each learning center gave tickets for a drawing. Prizes were awarded to two lucky winners who received a compost bin and a water barrel.

    To prepare for Community Garden Day, the students studied plant growth and development in their classrooms in addition to planting and tending the school’s garden. The third graders collaborated with members of the PA Resources Council to add composting to the school’s gardening system. This came about as an effort to recycle the school’s daily fruit and vegetable snack waste. The Resources Council also assisted eighth graders with constructing water collection barrels and then using them properly. Both the composting and water collection systems were then featured at Community Garden Day learning stations.

    The 2011 Community Garden Day lasted two hours. Well over 130 people attended, including 50 families and a few members of the general community. Fresh fruit and vegetables with hummus dip were provided for attendees through a grant from EarthForce, an organization that partnered with the school to create this sustainable community project.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Kristen Golomb
    Contact Person’s Title: Science Coach
    Email: kgolomb@propelschools.org

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will practice healthy eating as a result of their school gardening experiences, which include snacking on produce from their garden.
    • Students will learn gardening skills and concepts and then reinforce their learning by teaching community members about gardening.
    • Students will plan and present the Community Garden Day activities.
    • Students’ families will be provided knowledge and some of the supplies to plant a home garden.
    • Students’ abilities in language arts, social studies, math, and science will be enhanced by activities associated with the garden and the Community Garden Day event.

    Advice

    • There should be at least one adult assigned to be in charge of the garden. This is necessary to make sure that all maintenance is performed, especially if volunteers are scarce during the summer break. The person in charge must be willing to put in a lot of extra time.
    • Participating teachers spent a lot of time planning and purchasing materials for Community Garden Day. Staff members also acquired outside funding for garden supplies and Garden Day materials and prizes, and this required considerable amounts of their time.
    • Promote the event well in advance in order to ensure strong community attendance.

    Evidence of Success

    • The garden has successfully produced basil, tomatoes, parsley, and lettuce.
    • Students have sampled and enjoyed produce from their garden.
    • Attendance was high at the Community Garden Day event.
    • When teaching others at Community Garden Day stations, students showed a clear understanding of plant growth and development.
  • School Garden Science Project: The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School

    Description

    This school garden is supervised by the science teacher for third, fourth, and fifth grades. There are 120 students in these science classes, all of whom participate in the garden project. Each class receives two, one-hour science lessons a week, and, weather permitting, half of each of these lessons is working on the garden project, for a total of about one hour a week in the garden per student/science class. Some of the Kindergarten through second grade teachers also have their students contribute to the project by visiting the garden to water the plants.

    Seeds were planted inside the classrooms in March. The students dutifully observed and cared for their seedlings’ light and water needs until the second week of May, when the students transplanted the seedlings into raised outdoor beds. This is when they also began to start some plants inside a greenhouse located within their garden area.

    The entire garden area includes an eight foot by eleven foot greenhouse plus five raised beds, each of them four feet by five feet.

    Although nothing has ripened enough to be eaten as of this writing, the students are expecting to be eating from their very healthy garden before school ends on July 8. With the new school year starting up again on August 25, there will be many opportunities to eat from the garden at the beginning of the new school year, as well. Plans include serving garden produce to the students for their snacks.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Teresa A. Grande
    Contact Person’s Title: Teacher
    Email: t_grande15209@yahoo.com
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 721- 0261

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will plant and harvest their own vegetables.
    • Students will learn about healthy eating habits.
    • Students will experience having a garden despite the school’s urban setting.

    Advice

    • Research what it takes to create a school garden. Find out how others have organized this type of project: how to keep the students involved and enthusiastic, how to find volunteer help, how to schedule garden work, etc. Find out how to manage a garden in special settings such as this garden’s urban environment.
    • Recruit many volunteers to help with the project. Begin recruitment during the previous school year.
    • One source of volunteer help might be local gardening groups.

    Evidence of Success

    • In science class the students are able to discuss how to start and care for a garden.
    • Students know what to do when they are in the garden. They know when and how to plant, weed, feed, water, and harvest the garden plants and produce.
    • Students have become enthusiastic about gardening.
    • The garden plants are large, healthy, and producing food.
  • "Growing Our Future” Program Includes School Gardens and Farm Tours: Owen J. Roberts School DistrictType in your Headline

    Description

    This program was piloted in one school, East Vincent Elementary School (EVE), beginning with an outdoor educational garden. The pilot program at EVE expanded to nutrition education and guided discovery that supports Pennsylvania Standards for Kindergarten Education. EVE Kindergarten teachers received a grant to provide whole food snacks (foods that are grown). Students learn about “healthy choices” in a variety of ways. The program has now expanded through the PA Department of Agriculture Healthy Farms, Healthy Schools Grant to include all district kindergarten students in five elementary schools.

    Individual kindergarten classrooms use indoor and outdoor gardens, nutrition lessons, cooking demonstrations, food tastings, farm visits, farmer talks, and a culminating hands–on Farm Day to integrate farm, food, and health relationships into the curriculum. Topics include family–school–community partnerships; health, safety, and physical education; reading, writing, speaking, and listening; science and technology; and environment and ecology. Big books and other resources help teachers coordinate lessons. “Growing Vegetable Soup,” “Eating the Alphabet,” and “Diary of a Worm” are among the books used.

    Kindergarten students cultivate fresh vegetables, and they taste foods they may not have otherwise tried. A local farmer visits each school to plant pea sprouts that the students harvest and eat. Lessons focus on whole food snacks as much as possible. Owen J. Roberts kindergarten students experience local foods in many ways, and they are encouraged to make intelligent food choices. They focus on five behavioral outcomes:

    • Eat a variety of foods;
    • Eat more fruits, vegetables and grains;
    • Eat locally produced foods more often;
    • Become comfortable with basic food preparation and safety; and
    • Be physically active.

    Kindergarten teachers use fun and behavior–focused nutrition education strategies to increase acceptance and preference for healthful and local foods. Educational trips for parents and students to local farms include the Milky Way Farm. Maysie’s Farm and Conservation Center also supports the program. Kindergarten Farm Day, a hands–on educational field trip in May that is planned and provided by high school agriculture students, provides:

    • Opportunities for students to apply what they have learned about the grain chain;
    • An opportunity to become “farmer for a day” and take products to market;
    • Hands–on exposure to farm animals, local foods and butter–making; and
    • An interactive concert.

    Contact Information

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

    Category

    • Health Education

    Objectives

    The program strives to:

    • Increase the student and parent connection to food sources through growing and harvesting of foods in educational outdoor gardens and through visits to working farms;
    • Increase the consumption of nutritious food by teaching children and parents how to make better food choices;
    • Increase student and parent awareness and value of locally grown food and enlist the support of parents to help increase children’s consumption of fresh local products;
    • Support Pennsylvania’s agricultural landscape and economy by teaching students and parents agricultural and natural resource stewardship, by offering access to local foods, and by teaching how to cook with local foods; and
    • Build community and sense of place in the community through various opportunities to meet local farmers and chefs; and
    • Increase children’s consumption of fresh local products through participation in a community Farm Market event.

    Advice

    • Food allergies present challenges with experimental food programs. We work to be as inclusive as possible, but not every child can participate in every activity.
    • It is expensive to provide healthful snacks — at least one dollar per day per student. Delivery fees compound the expense.
    • It is ambitious to provide this program district–wide in 16 classrooms and 5 schools. The program could not succeed without volunteers and a dedicated grant manager.
    • It is a concern that students are not motivated to continue the habits they adopt in kindergarten.
    • Our next step is to introduce a nutrition program, “There is a Rainbow on My Plate,” to district second graders.

    Evidence of Success

    • At first, teachers were extremely cautious to adopt the program due to so many demands and priorities that already seem overwhelming. After one year, the results, including parent/student feedback, were so positive that every teacher embraced the program. Many teachers noted behavior changes in their students when provided with healthful snacks.
    • The kindergartners are easily motivated to learn how to be healthy.
    • Students react to food offerings in the classroom differently than they may at home. They look forward to trying new things.
    • Students ask their caretakers to provide the healthful snacks they sample in the classroom. Many families would never have tried hummus, carrot cookies, or even vegetable soup. Parents ask for and use the recipes used in school.
  • Elementary Students Become Gardeners: Manheim Elementary School, South Western SD

    Description

    Second grade students started growing radishes and lettuce in the classroom and tended the plants until it was warm enough in mid-April to transfer them to the garden. It was the responsibility of the students to water and weed the garden plants.

    Second graders were involved because their curriculum includes some study of agriculture. Lessons about nutrition, composting, the plant growth cycle, measuring, and cooperation were enhanced by garden-related activities. Fourth graders also helped when they could because they were learning about gardens. The Food Service Director and one teacher were in charge of the garden this year, and only students and school staff participated in its care. Next year they will keep the garden the same size, thirty feet by thirty feet, and try to expand to involve more students and possibly some members of the community. This will lessen the amount of work for each participant.

    The second and fourth graders picked the radishes and lettuce when they were ripe and then sampled them in the classroom. Cafeteria staff prepared the remaining harvest as free samples that were offered in the cafeteria, thus encouraging all students in the school to try new, fresh, locally grown foods. Some of the plants from which the vegetables were harvested were displayed in the cafeteria so that students could learn about them, too.

    Radishes were offered for several days, and they were promoted via the school-wide announcement system. About half of the students sampled them, and quite a few said that they liked them.

    The following were planted later in the spring: marigolds, sunflowers, red beets, tomatoes, basil, cantaloupe, oregano, carrots, and onions. In early June students planted peppers, beans, watermelons, and pumpkins. Plans have been made to plant strawberries when possible.

    Summer plans include daily watering by custodial staff, and volunteers will weed, harvest, and clean produce that ripens during their shifts. All of the students’ families received a letter with a request for volunteers to help with the garden over the summer. Another source of summer help will be the staff and students who participate in summer programs at the school. Students who help in the garden during the summer months will be given produce that matures during that time, and they will be encouraged to take it home to their families.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Shawn Harlacher
    Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food and Nutrition Services
    Email: shawn_harlacher@swsd.k12.pa.us
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 632-2500

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will create a garden that will provide nutritious food and learning experiences.
    • Students will experience hands-on planting and caring for a garden.
    • Students will sample a variety of foods from the school garden.

    Advice

    • Students should plant early so the produce can ripen in time for sampling before the end of the school year.
    • When serving food from the garden, include a display of the plants from which it came.
    • If garden care is too time-consuming, try keeping the same size garden for the future, but with more helpers.

    Evidence of Success

    • Students are excited about sampling the produce from the garden.
    • The students enjoyed planting, caring for, and harvesting the garden.
    • The kitchen manager enjoyed helping the students prepare the items for distribution.
    • The staff is planning to grow an improved garden next year.
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