How does your garden grow?
Healthier lunches are important, but Gray’s pride and joy
is school gardens. “So many wonderful things come out of
school gardens,” she says. “Our local Lincoln Elementary
didn’t have one, so a bunch of us got together. We got a
Home Depot grant and built the garden. Then we started
having cooking classes with the stuff we harvested, and
we’d all sit together and eat. A student in welding class
created our metal sign. A math teacher used the garden
as a project to measure and build compost bins. We also
collaborated with a community group to take care of the
garden during the summer, with the food going to the
local food bank.”
The Kitchen Community, a nonprofit organization in
Boulder, Colo., also believes in the cornucopia of riches
that come from school gardens. Its mission is to build
community through food with its learning gardens.
They’re above-ground gardens built by the organization
and supported by its full-time education staff. Currently,
there are 240 of the 1,200-1,500-square-foot gardens
in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Memphis schools and in
schools throughout Colorado.
Students learn all about what they’re helping plant, cultivate and harvest. They eat the fruits of their labor on
the spot, in their school lunch or during classroom events
— or they take it home for their family to enjoy, says
Courtney Walsh, director of community engagement.
The organization is currently funding research into the
effects of its gardens. Anecdotal results show that aggression is down at schools that have learning gardens, reports
Walsh. “Studies also show that if kids plant vegetables,
they’re 60 times more likely to eat them, and that’s
definitely taking place,” she adds. “There’s a lot more
community happening around food and the idea of harvesting it and the understanding where it comes from.”
Advocates expect nothing but continued growth in the
push to improve school food and, in turn, communities.
“This movement is integrally linked with the overall public
desire for fresher foods and for local, organic foods,” says
Joshi. “I see that future being really bright. Schools can
serve as change agents in their communities.”
G.M. Filisko is an attorney and freelance writer who
writes frequently on real estate, business and legal
issues. Ms. Filisko served as an editor at NAR’s REALTOR© Magazine for 10 years.
Healthy food is a nonpartisan issue,
and food-to-school programs are
a very good economic business.
The Kitchen Community’s learning gardens in Boulder, Colo.
Photo courtesy of Burke County Public Schools (Augusta, Ga.)
Photo courtesy of the Kitchen Community