School Garden News – California

An ecologically correct subject for students

By Elisabeth Laurence, SFExaminer.com

Wells_GardenOn duty: Shariff Hasan tends the garden at Ida B. Wells Continuation High School. Bret Putnam/Special to The Examiner .

SAN FRANCISCO – It’s not just English, math and science at San Francisco schools. Students are getting a vegetable education, learning how to grow, harvest and cook food grown in on-site school gardens.

Urban Sprouts, a four-year-old nonprofit that teaches gardening to 750 middle and high school students at gardens at six San Francisco public schools, makes growing food and cooking it outdoors a treat.

Students at Aptos Middle School, International Studies Academy, June Jordan School for Equity, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, San Francisco Community School and Ida B. Wells Continuation High School learn the ABCs of what it takes to prepare soil, build compost “warm bins,” plant seeds, weed, prune and make meals out of just-picked organic vegetables and fruit.

Abby Rosenheck, executive director of Urban Sprouts, began the program while helping a colleague studying the benefits of school
gardens for students’ health.

She says, “Students get a lot out of it. One of the things we see right away is that they start to eat more fruits and vegetables. They get excited — before they thought vegetables were boring. Now they see how they grow in the soil. These are city kids. They learn more about the environment. And they bring that knowledge home to their families.”

At Ida B. Wells High School, principal Claudia Anderson has been a longtime proponent of the program, in which students work together and learn horticulture.

Senior Landall Bell, 17, says, “I’ve learned a lot about plants I didn’t know before. My favorite thing is to see the progress and the growth. It’s knowledge that will probably stick with me for a while.”

The school gardens are situated below a hillside on what may be the best view of The City, just off Alamo Square. Total square footage is about 50 feet by 25 feet. The space is divided into two long garden beds, terraced on different levels with a path between, so students can easily work on the plants.

The beds contain a mixture of crops. The current winter garden features collard greens, lettuce, onions, kale, chard, artichoke, oregano, mint, thyme and new potatoes.

Students enjoy the fruits of their gardening by learning to cook what they’ve grown; for example, preparing tomato soup with newly harvested zucchini.

Rosenheck says, “Students are the urban farmers of the future. With their skills, knowledge and interest they’ll be committed to health, the environment and the community. They’re advocates in a new way.”

For more information, visit www.Urbansprouts.org

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on Reddit

Leave a Reply