Category Archives: School Garden News

School Garden News – Arizona

School’s gardening way yields national attention

By Rhonda Bodfield, arizona daily star, azstarnet.com

Primary school teacher Molly Reed can cook, but she’s no Rachael Ray in the kitchen.

So imagine her surprise to be flying to New York as a special guest on the cookbook queen’s daytime television show.

Reed herself brought the limelight to Borton Primary Magnet School, even though she jokes that she’s now appealing to her principal for help in picking an outfit for her national debut.

She sent an e-mail to Ray last fall, explaining how the school’s community garden is being used to tackle poor nutrition and obesity at Borton, 700 E. 22nd St.

The school, which has a focus on inquiry-based project learning, long has incorporated some small gardens into the curriculum. In fact, by Principal Teri Melendez’s count, there are a dozen gardens at Borton, most of them small plots belonging to specific classes.

Last year, Reed had a class garden, which culminated in a harvest celebration, including a stir-fry using the veggies they’d grown. She was there to guide their first experience with tofu.

Inspired, she successfully wrote a grant and the new schoolwide garden was built with community muscle, technical expertise from the Community Food Bank and a lot of soaking and digging, digging and soaking.

Although a run date hasn’t yet been determined, the film crew already spent a day out at the school late last month, capturing the students in the garden and as they ran the occasional farmer’s market where students washed, packaged and sold their harvest, including lettuce, arugula, radishes and broccoli.

Their last effort sold out in two days and brought in $60, which helps support the garden.

Students improve literacy by writing factoids about each plant — carrots, for example, apparently come in seven colors. The project also helps teach math, with students adding purchases, making change, weighing vegetables and charting growth.

There are a million lessons to be taught. They’re learning that just because eggs are blue or brown doesn’t mean they’re rotten; that the tall leaves are clues to unearthing carrots with a little heft; and how to harvest broccoli — which, if you’ve ever seen it grow, is a legitimate question.

A confessed “chocoholic,” second-grader Alexandra Holiman said her family subscribes to Ray’s magazine, which she finds amusing because there’s a recipe every month for folks who cook for their canines.
Fortunately, she’s also a carrot-snacker, which is why she likes harvesting. “They’re really sweet. They are so good I want to eat them all.”

The new project is an extension of the school’s overall focus on good health.

Two years ago, the school started offering salads with nonfat dressing as a lunch choice.

It has a walking club and schoolwide jump-roping in the morning.

“We want children to know what’s healthy for them so that they can make good choices as they go through life,” Melendez said.

Reed’s students have an even clearer picture of how food affects health. She won a mini-grant last year to set up a student-powered bicycle generator to show students how it takes energy to make energy.

Initially only able to pedal about 10 seconds because of the high levels of friction, they learned about how they need to eat well to be strong. On Monday, one student pedaled for 280 seconds.

Second-grader Allie Tucker attributed some of the growth to the garden. “Sometimes, we eat from there, and the vegetables help make our bones strong.”

Reed said breakfast for her students at the beginning of the year all-too-often consisted of sugary cereals or hot cheese puffs. But after months of sampling the edible plants and herbs grown in the garden, she’s seen a big change.

“I never thought I’d hear a 7-year-old say, ‘I love chard,’ or ‘I prefer kale over greens.’ “

School Garden News – California

Local schools, local food
Advocacy group pushing Chico school district to serve more-healthful food in cafeterias

By Christine G.K. LaPado, NewsReview.com

Debra Abbott works as an after-school gardening teacher at McManus, Parkview, Rosedale and Citrus elementary schools. Her job is funded by a special grant for low-performing and high-poverty schools. She recently helped some of her students pick lettuce, chard, spinach and carrots from their school garden, showed them how to wash the vegetables, and then helped them prepare fresh lemon vinaigrette to put on the salad she guided them to create.

“All of the kids loved it,” said Abbott of the, garden-to-classroom food. “They said they’d rather eat that than the ‘little fruit pellets’ they [were given at school] for a snack and didn’t eat. These kids want this [fresh] food.”

Abbott describes a “huge disconnect” between what she is teaching children in her gardening program and “the processed food in the cafeteria” that they are eating for breakfast, lunch and snacks. She cited the packaged, sugary cereals and high-fat breakfast entrees such as “sausage on a stick” and “sausage on a biscuit,” and “pizza every day of the week,” as prime examples of school foods that should be reduced or eliminated.

“They could serve Cheerios, Special K or Rice Krispies instead of all those sweet cereals,” said Abbott, “but they’re probably being subsidized by the sweet-cereal industry.”

Abbott is a member of a new organization called Advocates for Healthy School Communities. The group held its second “Change School Lunch” meeting on Jan. 8 at the OPT (Overweight Prevention and Treatment) for Fit Kids office on Mangrove Avenue. The group, which thus far totals nine members, is made up largely of parents, local food educators and school garden teachers—including Maria Venturino, co-owner of the Red Tavern restaurant and parent of two Chico schoolchildren.

Other members include sustainability activist and KZFR programmer Laurie Niles; Kristen Del Real, substitute teacher and school garden coordinator at Hooker Oak Elementary School and mother of two children who attend the school; and Jeremy Miller, president of Chico Food Network, a nonprofit that is working to “foster a local food system that contributes to the long-term viability of farms in our region” and “provide education regarding local food systems,” among other aims.

They are attempting to get the Chico Unified School District to improve the quality of cafeteria food, as well as make progressive, healthful changes to the district’s current wellness policy, which is in the final-draft stage.

Click link above for complete article.

School Garden News – Florida

School Garden Yields Crop of Lessons
by Tiffany Lankes, heraldtribune.com

SARASOTA – The little plot at Southside Elementary has a selection of vegetables and herbs to rival any farmers market.

Everything from dill, sage and chives to eggplant, bok choy and cabbage overruns the 15-by-10-foot space outside Catherine Lankenau’s classroom. Nineteen first-graders spend part of each school day taking care of it.

They started the organic garden with the help of parent Krista Benz, who donated the soil, mulch and plants — close to 100 — to get them started. On Thursday Rob Kluson from the Sarasota County Extension dropped by to give them tips and talk about earthworms.

“You guys are really good gardeners,” Kluson told them.

FIRST-GRADERS’ ORGANIC ALMANAC
Organic gardening may be tough, but these tips from Southside first-graders (and extension agent Rob Kluson) may help get even a novice gardener started.

• Use earthworms to keep the soil naturally fertile. Throw some coffee grounds in as well, since earthworms like to eat them.

• Include other plants that attract helpful bugs, like ladybugs and spiders, that will eat harmful pests. Also include plants like butterfly bushes. Butterflies will help pollinate the plants.

• Visit a community garden and learn from people who are already doing it. “You’ve just got to experiment,” Kluson said. “You learn by trying.”

School Garden News – California

Garden Grows Math, Science
By ERICA SHEN, The Press-Enterprise

Thanks to Garrett Frasier, a math and science garden at Clayton A. Record Jr. Elementary School in San Jacinto is one step closer to completion.

For his Eagle Scout project, the 16-year-old from San Jacinto solicited donations and rallied volunteers to lay concrete in the garden.

The 1,500-square-foot garden has planters in shapes such as triangles, rectangles and circles. It will be used to teach students horticulture and math.

Garrett Frasier, 16, of San Jacinto
(Photo by Erica Shen / The Press-Enterprise)
Garrett Frasier, 16, of San Jacinto, designed a garden at Clayton A. Record Jr. Elementary School as part of his Eagle Scout project. The 1,500-square-foot garden has planters in shapes such as triangles, rectangles and circles. It will be used to teach students horticulture and math.

Garrett, who belongs to Boy Scout Troop 908, started the project in September. After the planning stages, Garrett and his family and friends spent three Saturdays digging out dirt and pouring concrete.

Garrett said the project was a lesson in organizational and leadership skills.

“It taught me how to work with people and get something done,” he said.

Garrett’s friend, Kyle Holmes, who belongs to the same troop, worked on the garden for his Eagle Scout project earlier this year. He designed and constructed the wood frames for the garden and its geometric planters.

The school principal, Vince Record, said the garden has been a community effort. Besides the Boy Scouts, parents and volunteers from Home Depot also helped with the construction.

Record said the garden needs irrigation and a storage shed for hand tools. In the future, there may be some benches and a mural. Students will start planting in March.

School Garden News – Australia

Kitchen garden funding to go national
Reporter: Lucy Carter, abc.net.au

ELEANOR HALL: Convincing children to eat their greens can be an uphill battle and getting them to enjoy it almost impossible. But a program that’s about to be rolled out to almost 200 primary schools across Australia is promising to turn that around.

The Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program has been running in Victoria since 2001.
Now the Federal Government has committed $12.8-million dollars to help the project to expand nationally.

Lucy Carter has more.
LUCY CARTER: It’s a program that teaches children literally from the ground up, trying to make the idea of organic food attractive and interesting to years three to six.

Celebrity chef, food writer and founder of the program, Stephanie Alexander explains.
STEPHANIE ALEXANDER: The children have one full class a week in the garden and a double class in the kitchen.

From the very beginnings, they start to learn about where their food comes from. They start to enjoy all the magic of a garden and then once the crops are ready for picking, they take their harvest into the kitchen and in the kitchen they are shown fantastic ways of turning this largely vegetable crop into lovely food.

LUCY CARTER: Ms Alexander says the program encourages children to look at food in a number of different ways.

STEPHANIE ALEXANDER: They learn both actual cooking skills but they also learn the infinite potential of the stuff they’ve grown in the garden and then they sit around a table with their friends and with the volunteers who assist and learn all about the social joys of sharing food around a table which for many of them is a new experience.

LUCY CARTER: Sarah Warren is the Kitchen Garden program coordinator at Southmoor Primary School in Victoria, one of 27 schools in the state that currently has the program in place.

SARAH WARREN: It is not just a program that looks at cooking skills. It is a program that is really developing that whole knowledge of where food comes from and what it looks like if it is growing in the ground and not just picked up from the supermarket.

LUCY CARTER: She says teaching children about sharing food is one of the most rewarding aspects of the program.

SARAH WARREN: Especially when we first started, I mean the number of children that hadn’t set a table before and hadn’t really sat down on a daily basis and shared a meal with people that they are at home with, so I think that is a really important sort of social aspect of it.

It makes it more than just a cooking program. It makes it more of a, you know sharing what they have eaten and really enjoying and celebrating what they have actually grown.

LUCY CARTER: The program has been so successful in Victoria, it secured $12.8-million dollars in federal funding to help it expand it nationally.

Over the next four years, almost 200 schools will be able to apply for grants to set up their own kitchen garden.

Sharon Reeves is the principal of Alawa Primary School in Darwin. Her school already has a small farm in place, but will incorporate the kitchen garden program from next year, and act as a demonstration school for the Territory.

SHARON REEVES: I think it gives the purpose to the farm. I just think it is a wonderful opportunity for our students that I can’t see any equivalent for.

LUCY CARTER: She says the school has huge expectations for the project.

SHARON REEVES: Big visions of inviting like the dads one week and the mums another week and maybe grandmas or friends of the family, because we really want to encouraging that link too and build it in – working in partnership between the school and home, and therefore strengthening the links of school that way as well.

LUCY CARTER: The Federal Government is expected to announce this week which schools have received grants to start kitchen garden projects.

ELEANOR HALL: Lucy Carter reporting.

School Garden Grants

Contests encourage school and community gardens
By REBECCA PERRY / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

Big, juicy, organically grown tomatoes; crisp green peppers; perfectly purple eggplant and enough freshly dug potatoes to share with local families in need are reasons enough to tend a plot in a community garden.

Still need convincing? Consider fresh air, exercise and conversation with neighbors. The reasons for community gardens can pile up in a hurry. The cost of gardening materials can add up, too, but there are resources available to help community-minded gardeners meet their goals.

Grants and award programs aimed specifically at school and community gardens are multiplying. They reward chosen recipients with plants, tools and more. The programs are listed in order of application deadline. Stay informed on additional funding opportunities at sites including www.kids gardening.com/grants.asp or www.csrees.usda.gov/business/business.html as new deadlines are posted and other grant information becomes available.

Bayer Advanced “Grow Together With Roses” School Garden Award
This award helps school and community organizations beautify their world with roses. It is intended for groups with the goals of nurturing peaceful relations and involving community members who will be gardening with children between the ages of 3 and 18.
10 rosebushes and education materials
Application deadline: Jan. 23, 2009

Lowe’s Toolbox for Education
Nonprofit public schools for grades K through 12 may apply for grants that cover a variety of education projects. Suggested projects include turning an outdoor space into an inviting reading garden with benches, walkways, shady trees and flowers or planting a vegetable garden where history, social studies, math and science all come together in an active way. $2,000 to $5,000 per school.
Application deadline: Feb. 13, 2009 (or sooner, once 1,500 applications are received)

Fiskars Project Orange Thumb
Getting needed tools in the hands of community gardeners is the idea behind this project. A range of groups – community centers, clubs, youth groups, etc. – are eligible to submit their community garden, neighborhood beautification or horticulture education project. Up to $1,500 in Fiskars Tools; up to $800 for garden materials such as plants, seeds and mulch.
Application deadline: Feb. 17, 2009

Mantis Awards

Past winners have included schools, churches, correctional facilities, community gardens and many other organizations. Charitable and educational not-for-profit groups trying to increase their community’s access to fresh, nutritious foods are welcome to apply. 25 programs will each receive a Mantis Tiller/Cultivator
Application deadline: March 1, 2009

Nature Hills Nursery Green America Awards
This award targets nonprofit community groups striving to turn local eyesores into oases by planting trees, bushes and shrubs. Project examples include reclaiming an abandoned lot by creating a fruit orchard to provide fruit to nearby residents or refurbishing the landscape in a community park. Grand prize $2,500 in plants; first place $1,500 in plants; second place $1,000 in plants.
Application deadline: April 1, 2009

Bonnie Plants Third Grade Cabbage Program
This year more than 1 million third-graders will be planting and tending their own cabbage plants from Bonnie Plants, according to the company’s Web site. More third-grade teachers are invited to sign up for next year’s round. Free cabbage plants; $1,000 scholarship awarded to one student in each participating state.
Application deadline: Sept. 1, 2009

Healthy Sprouts Awards
Kids working together in a garden get much-needed exercise in addition to benefiting from healthful fresh veggies. Through these awards, the National Gardening Association supports youth garden programs focused on nutrition and hunger issues. School and youth programs for kids ages 3 to 18 may apply. $200 to $500 in Gardener’s Supply Co. gift certificates and 25 packets of seeds.
Application deadline: Oct. 15, 2009 (applications available Feb. 1, 2009)

Operation Green Plant
America the Beautiful Fund offers grants of free seeds to community groups. 100 to 1,000 packets of vegetable, flower and herb seeds (you pay $14.95 for shipping and handling for the first 100 packets, $5 for each additional set of 100). Applications accepted throughout the year.

School Garden Fundraising – Q&A with Curtis Jones

Curtis Jones is President of BotanicalInterests.com, a family owned seed company based in Colorado. Botanical Interests offers a very unique seed selling fundraising program that works particularly well for schools and especially schools with gardens.

School Garden Weekly (SGW): Curtis, what inspired you to start this unique fundraising idea for schools?
Curtis Jones (CJ): The primary reason I did this was because I was TIRED of all the crap (candy, etc.) being sold by my kids as fundraisers.  Additionally, I wanted a way to help the thousands of school organizations that need help. Not being Bill Gates or Warren Buffet, I can’t just write them checks (but would love to).

SGW: Is the fund raising hard to do?
CJ: Easy as can be. No forms to fill out , schools don’t touch the product. We also have a regular newsletter for the schools to assist them in their fundraiser.

SGW: How does it work?
CJ: Your “customers” buy seed from our website and you receive a check for 40% of the sales. We provide you with a url and a graphic for your website  to advertise to your potential “customers”. This url can be included in an email, a paper newsletter sent home with kids, automated phone messages, or placed on a website. When I send you the url and graphic, I will also include hints on how to make this fundraiser effective.

SGW: Is there anything unique about your seeds? I mean, are the “customers” going to see your product at half off at some chain store and then feel “cheated” like they do when they buy overpriced fundraising products (i.e. candy bars and wrapping paper)?
CJ: To answer your second question first, we only sell to high quality retail garden centers and health food grocery stores. They sell our product at the exact same price the schools sell to their “customers”. To answer the first question, our product is extremely unique. Having HUGE amounts of information inside and on the front and back of our packets means they were designed to educate the gardener – in some respects, our goals are the same as the schools. We now have an extremely loyal following amongst gardeners because of our superior quality and unconditional guarantee.

SGW: Does it take awhile for the school’s “customers” to get their orders?
CJ: No. Once we receive an order, it is shipped within a day or two after we receive it. The order goes in a pretty box with a seed starting guide and pretty wrapping paper.

SGW: Are there any up front costs or expenses? How does a school get started?
CJ: NO expense at all. NONE. To get started, simply go to http://www.botanicalinterests.com/fundraising.php, scroll down, click the “Schools” button,  and fill out the form. To look at the website that the school’s customers will see, go to botanicalinterests.com.

SGW: Are there any disadvantages to your fundraiser?
CJ: Only two. First, it is easy to buy a candy bar. Everyone can eat candy. Not everyone is a gardener. But we have something for everyone… including catgrass for cats. Also, everyone buys herbs at the store, right? With our educational packaging and high quality seed, it is easy for beginners or non-gardeners to grow a pot of basil or a year-round supply of other herbs such as oregano or thyme.  Additionally, in our current economic environment, more and more people are starting to garden by seed. Victory-Garden like. This is a good time to jump on that bandwagon! The second disadvantage is that it is almost TOO easy a fundraiser. Without having some kid shove a form in his/her parents face, it is pretty easy for parents to ignore this fundraiser. We address this issue by also including the option to use an easy-to-use paper order form. With just a little effort, this fundraiser can become a NATIONAL fundraiser, not just a local one AND can generate income year round, unlike conventional fundraisers.

SGW: Thank you Curtis. I hope many schools take advantage of this.
CJ: Thank you George, me too 🙂