Jamie Oliver’s TED award speech

Famous chef and 2010 TED Prize Winner Jamie Oliver expresses his wish to teach every child about food and fight obesity. You can read more about it here.

School hooks worms into sustainable class services

Starside Elementary School in De Soto, Kansas is tending to a collection of worms that are helping to break down cafeteria waste. The school has twelve bins or factories of the Pennsylvania red wigglers to help create the compost.

See article here and make sure to check out the accompanying video.

10 Ways to Integrate School Gardens into Arts, Science, and Math

1) Make a scarecrow. See Atlanta Botanical Gardens 2009 Scarecrow Winners for inspiration.

2) Paint a sign. Nothing says Our Garden like a freshly painted sign. See 25 photos of garden signs from Life Lab.

3) Build a trellis. Trellises are needed throughout the year to support such vegetables as peas, pole beans, tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, and gourds. See trellis as art from Maine artist, Paul Jurutka.

4) Make a germinator to showcase germination process (see video.)

5) Read Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman. Some have turned the book into a school play. Others were inspired to make a movie.

6) Keep a journal. For scientific purposes we want to track the following: what we’re growing, when did we sow seeds, how long did the seeds take to germinate, how often do we water, how long does a plant take to mature (from seed to harvest), how big does a plant get (height and width), and how much does it yield.

Many other scientific experiments may be initiated with results tracked in a journal.  See Conducting an Experiment from cornell.edu.

7) Plant seeds of lettuce or cilantro and observe the different plant stages. Reserve one plant to be saved for seed. These plants (all annuals) will flower and seed within the school year. Students can observe the entire lifecycle of a plant (seed-to-seed), as well as learn to collect seeds for the following seasons.

8) Collect bugs and insects into a terrarium and observe their habitat and behavior.

9) For math students, examples of gardening equations:
a) If a row is 8 ft long and we space our carrots 3 inches apart how many carrots can we grow in one row?
b) Our pole beans grow 8 inches a week. How many feet will they be after 12 weeks?
c) My raised bed is 4ft x 8 ft x 1ft. How many bags of dirt (2 cubic feet each) does it take to fill the raised bed?

10) For more inspiration see School Garden Potpourri of Ideas

Choosing Tomato Seeds

Always a difficult decision. Tomatoes (and corn) is everyone’s favorite homegrown vegetable. We’ll be starting them indoors in late February and early March. If you haven’t gotten your seeds yet, get them NOW.

This year I’ve decided on Aunt Ruby’s German Green, Pineapple Tomato, Cherokee Purple and Sungold Tomato.

Sungolds are bright orange, cherry tomatoes, hybrids, very sweet, and very high yields. The others are heirlooms, open-pollinated, 1-2 pounders: green, yellow blush, and deep red.

The intent is both visual and culinary. The different colors will delight any child and the depth of flavors from the four varieties in a freshly made salsa, bruschetta, or checca will excite the palate of any adult.

Favorite Seed Companies:
Baker Creek
Botanical Interests
Gourmet Seed
PineTree Seeds

National Green Week 2010 (February 1-5)

Green Education Foundation (GEF) is mobilizing two million children to participate in environmental educational programs during National Green Week 2010 (Feb. 1-5, 2010). The objective is to empower students to become environmental stewards within the context of their own lives.

GEF’s provides all the educational content for the program including standards based environmental lessons that are easily incorporated into science, math, language arts, social studies, and creative arts curricula. Following are some of the GEF eco-challenges that schools can participate in during National Green Week 2010:

* Waste-Free Snacks & Lunches – Students nationwide will participate in the largest school based waste-reduction program in history by pledging to carry their drinks, snacks and home packed lunches in reusable containers for the week. The combined totals will be tallied and posted on the GEF website on Earth Day 2010 (April 22).

* Energy Reduction Challenge – Students will audit their classrooms, schools and homes to find energy leaks and correct them in an effort to reduce energy consumption at school and at home.

* Lights-out Classrooms – Teachers are encouraged to turn off the lights, when sunlight is a viable option to teach by for at least one day during National Green Week 2010.

* Walk/Bike/Carpool Week – Students and their families will make a concerted effort to walk, bike and/or carpool for the week.

* Idle Free Week – Principals will encourage all parents and bus drivers to turn off their ignitions when wait time is longer than 20 seconds.

National Green Week 2010 is a free program. Schools and groups are encouraged to take this opportunity, whether for the week, a day or an assignment to spend time with their students discussing environmental issues and specifically what they can do to make a difference. Please view the National Green Week 2010 start-up kit for all the details on how to participate in the program.

For more information visit Green Education Foundation

School Garden Training on the St. Lawrence University Campus, Canton, NY

From Green Pages, stlawu.edu

School Garden Training
Location: St. Lawrence University Campus
Date: March 30, 2010

School Garden Training on the St. Lawrence University Campus, Canton

This training is designed for those who already maintain a school garden project AND for those considering one.  It is open to school faculty and staff, parents, community members – all are welcome!

Presentations & workshops will include topics such as integrating garden projects into the curriculum, utilizing the harvest in classroom and cafeteria, and q & a sessions with successful project coordinators.  Details and registration to come in January 2010.  We hope you will plan to join us for this exciting training cosponsored by:  Health Quest MOVE & the Eat Well Play Hard Community Project of the St. Lawrence Health Initiative, Cornell Cooperative Extension of St. Lawrence County, GardenShare, UShare, Lettuce Turnip the Beet and the St. Lawrence Valley Teachers’ Learning Center.  Please share this information with anyone who may be interested.

A variety of grant opportunities for school garden projects are listed below (thanks to all who send these my way!).  Please contact me if you would like assistance planning a school garden project for this coming spring or with any other school gardening questions or ideas for St. Lawrence County.

1. Mantis Awards
Sponsor: Mantis
Award package: Mantis tiller/cultivators
Number of awards: 25
Who qualifies: community, school, and youth garden programs
Annual application deadline: March 1

2. Public School Teachers Request
Sponsor: DonorsChoose.org
Award package:
Who qualifies: Teacher defined projects in schools Annual application deadline: Rolling

3. Community Food Projects Competitive Grants Program
Sponsor: USDA – CSREES
Award package:: $10,000 – $300,000
Number of awards: not specified
Who qualifies: private, nonprofit entities meeting specific requirements
Annual application deadline: May

4. 2010 Youth Garden Grants
Sponsor: National Gardening Assoc and Home Depot
Award package: $500 -$1000 gift cards
Number of awards: 100
Who qualifies: community, school, and youth garden programs
Annual application deadline: November 2nd

5. Champions for Healthy Kids
Sponsor: General Mills
Award package: $10,000
Number of awards: 50
Who qualifies: community-based groups that develop creative ways to help youth adopt a balanced diet and physically active lifestyle.
Annual application deadline: January 15, 2010

6 America the Beautiful Fund
Non-profit group receives seed donations from major seed companies. Sets of 50 packets of vegetables, flowers and herbs are available for the cost of postage and handling.

7. Outdoor Classroom Grant Program
The goal is to provide schools with additional resources to improve their science curriculum by engaging students in hands-on experiences outside the traditional classroom. All K-12 public schools in the United States are welcome to apply.

8.  Welch’s Harvest Grants

9.  Fiskar’s Project Orange Thumb

School Gardens in the News

1) Hillsboro, OR
Planting Seeds for the Future

It’s Christmas break at Minter Bridge Elementary School in Hillsboro, but visions of sprouting seeds, blooming bulbs and sturdy shrubs just might be dancing in the heads of students and staff and the Hillsboro Garden Club.

The garden club, now in its 80th year, recently forged a partnership with Minter Bridge when members donated seven garden-themed books to the school library as well as a birdhouse that looks like a miniature beaver den.

2) England, UK
UK School Kids Ditch Junk Food for Vegetables They Grow

I’ve long advocated for gardening with kids, not only to connect children closer with nature but to improve their diet. Food for Life Partnership, “a network of schools and communities across England committed to transforming food culture,” agrees. The Telegraph reports:

Emma Noble, director of the Food for Life Partnership, said: “It is possible to transform school food culture and to increase school meal take-up at the same time when young people’s views are listened to and school meal changes are supported by practical food education like learning to cook, growing food and visiting farms to learn where food actually comes from.”

3) Washington, DC
Kids Taste A Sweeter Veggie, White House Style

If you didn’t know that spinach tastes sweeter when it’s grown in cool temperatures, it’s likely you haven’t been digging around in a winter garden. The White House has just planted a slew of cold-weather vegetables, and a group of students from an after-school cooking class in Washington, D.C., were among the first to visit.

4) Richmond,CA
Jesse Kurtz-Nicholl’s Interview with Urban Ag High School Student, Ana Araujo

In October 2009, Jesse Kurtz-Nicholl sat down with Ana Araujo to discuss the Urban Agriculture and Food Systems class she participated in at Richmond High School in 2008/2009.  The class was a pilot program, which gave the students graduation credit and was centered around the creation of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and direct sale of produce from a middle school farm and the school garden at Richmond High.