School Garden News – Nevada

Area schools plant gardens to teach science and nutrition
Teachers want students to learn how to eat healthy

By James Haug Las Vegas Review Journal

How do you get kids to eat fruits and vegetables?

With a shovel and rake.

Gardens are not only useful for teaching science. They also teach children how to eat.

“Research suggests that children who participate in gardening projects are more often willing to consume vegetables that they grow,” said Patricia Lau, the program administrator of Project HOPE (Healthy Options for Prevention and Education), a three-year obesity study in Clark County schools by the University Medical Center.

Lau would like to show students at Martin Middle School, which has 70 percent Hispanic enrollment at 200 N. 28th St. near Eastern Avenue, how to grow tomatoes, chives and jalapenos so they can make their own salsa.

Improving diet and exercise has become critical since the childhood obesity rate has more than doubled to 12 percent since 1980, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity is defined as 20 percent above a person’s ideal body weight.

Fran Gollmer, a science teacher at Gene Ward Elementary School, 1555 E. Hacienda Ave. near Maryland Parkway, has put students to work maintaining a 1-acre garden, thought to be the biggest school garden in the valley.

“The biggest problem we have is getting kids not to pick when it’s ripe. It tastes so good,” said Gollmer, who oversees a garden of carrots, snow peas, lettuce, peaches, pomegranates, almonds and other nuts, fruits and vegetables.

Ideally, she would like to send some produce home to students’ families. The garden is a family project since students tend to the garden during science class and lunch breaks and parents help take care of it over the summer.

Karyn Johnson, a community instructor with the Nevada Cooperative Extension, said there are more than 100 public and private schools with gardens in Clark County. She estimates 25 new school gardens are added every year. A behavioral school has a “therapy garden” to improve the mental health of its students.

At least one garden has gone indoors. Helen Stewart School, a special education school at 2375 E. Viking Road near Eastern, opened a 630-square-foot greenhouse in January.

School gardens do not have to be elaborate. Johnson said gardens don’t need much water if managed properly. Because of scarcity of resources, many schools plant “container gardens,” which might be a window-sill box, a ceramic planter or even a stack of old tires filled with dirt.

“You don’t have to be high-end,” Lau said. “You can use recyclables.”

Gollmer joked that the garden at Ward Elementary School is “funded through grants and people who feel sorry for me. There’s no money in the school budget.”

Because weeds were getting out of control this year, Gollmer said she sold $600 worth of popcorn to hire somebody to help with de-weeding. She has also gotten grants or donations from Wal-Mart, the Las Vegas Water Valley District and the Kiwanis Club.

High school service clubs and Boy Scouts working on their badges have also volunteered. The garden has nurtured 13 Eagle Scout projects.

Gollmer said all the work and expense is worth it considering that most of her students are apartment dwellers deprived of outdoor opportunities.

One boy who was raking some dirt pointed to a sprout in soil and asked her if it was a weed.

“No, that’s lettuce,” Gollmer said.

She said her students are so needy for nature that they treat the garden’s ladybugs like their pets.

Third-grader Ashley Ben-Rhouma, 9, was playing with a ladybug on March 31 that was tickling her arm.

“Don’t go up my shirt,” she pleaded with the bug.

Gollmer hopes the garden will whet students’ appetite for knowledge.

The garden has 4-feet-tall volcanoes made from chicken wire that emit “lava,” actually an explosive mix of Diet Coke and Mentos candy. Gollmer also buries “dinosaur bones” for her student paleontologists to discover.

On April 17, the garden will host an Earth Day celebration with 100 students coming from Nevada State College to put on demonstrations and explain exhibits as varied as composting and butterflies. They will bake s’mores in a solar oven.

Educators said students need to get their hands dirty.

“Children will never learn to respect the earth if they don’t get into the earth,” Johnson said.

Growing Minds: Installing An Educational Garden

I love a good success story, especially one that includes overcoming obstacles and coming out on top.  These are the stories that are a joy to publish.

Theresa Loe had been trying for three years to install a school garden at Center Street Elementary School in El Segundo, CA. In light of recent cutbacks she was hard pressed to find someone to step-up and help out.  She then found the local chapter of the Kiwanis Club who ended up coming through big time. Let his be lesson to all of us: never say die, never take no for an answer.

View the video below to see how it all came together, and be sure to visit Theresa’s blog, GardenFreshLiving.com , for her take on the day’s events.

Center Street School’s new garden from Borski Productions on Vimeo.

Artichokes

Good news ‘choke fans, artichoke season is upon us. These edible buds are grown as perennials in our mild winter garden zone which means for those of us with year-round school gardens the time to enjoy them is now.

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Artichokes should be picked while the buds are still tight. The edible parts consist primarily of the fleshy lower portion of the bracts as well as the base, which is known as the “heart.” The immature florets in the center of the bud are inedible in older larger flowers and are usually removed.

See this video on how to clean artichokes for boiling and be sure to visit the California Artichoke Advisory Board (CAAB) for artichoke and artichoke dip recipes.

One note of caution, artichokes, being a member of the thistle family, have outer leaves that can develop into sharp points, gloves are recommend for harvesting.

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Lastly, consider allowing one or two buds to open, flower, and go to seed. The purple florets are a treat for the eyes and the feeling of running your fingers over them is a wondrous joy to the sense of touch.

School Garden News – California

Helping young minds grow
By Lucia Constantine, student at Stanford University
MercuryNews.com

Ask a child today where his food comes from and he will be more likely to say a supermarket than the earth.

This ignorance is representative of the increasing disconnect between ourselves and the foods we eat. When it comes to eating, we are setting children up for failure by not providing them with the knowledge and the motivation to make informed choices about food. Children cannot be expected to know what they are not taught, and in most schools garden education is not an integral part of the curriculum. Yet by learning how to grow, harvest, and prepare fresh produce, they gain not only a deeper understanding of where food comes from but also an appreciation for food that tastes good and is good for you.

Garden education programs allow children to witness the miracle of transformation from seed to delicious meal. By involving them in every aspect of food production from planting seeds to tending the crops, and harvesting produce, children develop a sense of pride and ownership over the garden, which makes them more likely to try tasting the food they have grown and to value the food they eat.

Fruits and vegetables can be a hard sell, particularly to children. They rarely appear in television commercials nor do they come in brightly colored boxes. Given the established influence children have on their parents’ food purchases, advertising to children has become common practice in the food industry. The foods advertised are often high in fat and sugar but low in nutritional value. It’s unreasonable to expect children to demand healthy choices when they are continually flooded with images of junk food. A school garden represents an opportunity for children to get excited about eating fruits and vegetables. Because eating habits are established at an early age and contribute to later outcomes in health, it becomes increasingly important to teach children what to eat while they are still young.

Moreover, what’s going on in the garden or in the kitchen serves to reinforce what’s being taught in the classroom. Working in the garden or cooking in the kitchen can be both a hands-on activity and a lesson in history, math, biology or nutrition. Because food is such an integral part of living, lessons in the garden can be connected to almost any topic.

By making garden education part of the curriculum, every child can be exposed to the wonder and miracle of food production and enticed to enjoy more of the benefits of fresh produce. If your school does not have a garden education program, help them get started. Check out the Edible School Yard in Berkeley and Collective Roots in Palo Alto, two successful garden education programs in the Bay Area, for ideas and inspiration. Grants and funding for new projects are available through a variety of venues including the Environmental Protection Agency and Kidsgardening. If your school already has a garden education program, let those responsible for the program know how important it is and how greatly their efforts are appreciated.

Spring Planting

In order to get our spring vegetables harvested before the end of the school term we are currently sowing the following from seed directly into the ground: bush beans, pole beans, zucchini, and lettuce. We are also transplanting seedlings of corn and cherry tomatoes, which we started in our greenhouse. Cherries mature quicker than the larger beefsteaks.

For those with year round gardens wait until the weather warms up a little more before planting cucumbers, melons, and winter squash.

If you’re not sure what to plant or when check out this planting guide from DigitalSeed.com

If you haven’t gotten seeds yet visit our friends at Botanical Interests and while you’re there check out their fundraising for school gardens.

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School Garden News – Australia

School’s Patch is Popular
BY MEGAN GORREY, StGeorge.YourGuide.com.au

Green thumbs: Como Public School students. Picture: Lisa McMahon

A NEW vegetable patch on the grounds of Como Public School is sprouting with possibilities as students learn how to grow and harvest their own food.

The school garden was planted to teach children important lessons about healthy eating, the environment and sustainability.

Fresh produce from the garden will be used in the canteen and will be sold at the school’s regular market days.

School administration manager Beth Munro said students had been excited by planting and harvesting their own vegetables.

“They can have a hand in seeing real food grow, rather than just appear in the supermarket,” she said.

“They were so enthusiastic when they got to taste some of the foods for the first time.”

The garden was thought up by the school’s P & C committee and also contains marigolds.

Winter Flowers

Its late February here in our California school gardens. Some of the veggies we planted in September are now going to seed (broccoli, bok choy, cilantro) while others are still producing (fava beans, peas).  Either way by observing the flowering of our plants we are reminded that all our annual plants go through a similar life cycle; they start from seed, grow, flower, set seeds, and die. Its starts with seeds and ends with seeds, beautiful flowers are merely a bonus.