School Gardens - Not just for the kids

Los Angeles Valley College’s Child Development Center which received the Child Care Center Nutrition Garden Grant in June 2013, has embraced the edible school garden program as part of their curriculum and seen results that go beyond the classroom and affected the lives of children and staff.

Utilizing their precious school yard space, the 2 ½ to 5 year old student s and teachers have planted three gardens that sport a wide variety of fruits and vegetables including; lettuce, beets, onions, kale, parsley, swiss chard, carrot seeds and snow peas.

These gardens, paired with a kitchen in each classroom, allow teachers to hold taste tests for the students to decide which fruits and veggies they like. Lessons like this have helped to teach "socialization, fine motor skills and even literacy," according to the school's Director Terry Teplin.

Cathy, one of the teachers, relayed a story about one taste test in particular:

"One day as we were playing outside, a child noticed an eggplant that had ripened on the plant. We picked it and talked about the vegetable and found examples of it in books. We discussed color, shape, texture, etc.

We found a recipe for cooking eggplant and made it together. It involved washing, peeling, cutting up the vegetable.  We then cracked some eggs gathered from our chickens, beat them, and dipped the eggplant slices in the batter and coated it with bread crumbs. We then cooked it and had an eggplant tasting party!

The children shared with each other how it tasted and if they liked it. We also shared it with the class next to us. For most of the children and even some teachers, it was the first time they had eaten eggplant. I also heard from some parents that their children talked about eating eggplant at school and wanted them to make some at home. The children were eager to show their family the photos displayed in the classroom showing what they did."
 

The effects of the garden on the school have been vast and continue to grow. Stories like this are the motivation for us here at Western Growers Foundation to continue to find ways to fund more and more school gardens.

If you have a story you’d like to share about your school please contact Heather Holland at hholland@wga.com, or click here to donate and help fund more schools.