Read the new Malcolm X School Garden blog, "School Under The Sky"!
Getting kids excited about eating vegetables is easy when your school has a 4,000 square foot garden on the playground and an award-winning gardening teacher! Rivka Mason won Channel 5's "Jefferson Award" in May of 2007, honoring the positive effects of her outdoor "life laboratory" classroom on the children.
Our kids plant seeds and learn to care for plants. They also find that they love to eat plants! Rivka encourages the children to pick edible leaves, stems, and fruit, and the kids get to make "weedos", small burrito-like roll-ups with everything from sour sorrel to beet greens to dinosaur kale. Huge yellow sunflowers tower over even the adults. Passionflowers grow over the fence and bright orange nasturtiums spill into the pathways. The kids come running in to check on their carrot seedlings in the spring; in the early summer corn plants have not yet reached knee-high. There are always new plants growing and mature ones to harvest.
For children, the garden provides a much needed context in which to investigate where food comes from. Students study plant life cycles and habitat through the seasons of the school year, as well as the insects that visit (and sometimes eat) the plants. The children learn how plants grow, what makes plants grow, seed saving, harvesting, and cooking with the produce that comes from their efforts. Educating students in this rich environment helps nurture a child's curiosity about the diversity of food choices.
Under the direction of our wonderful teacher, Rivka Mason, we provide garden lessons for over 400 students, every other week. There is an emphasis on garden-based nutrition (see www.lunchlessons.org), and we have ongoing collaboration with the classroom teachers to incorporate what they learn inside to what is going on outside and vice versa. Garden lessons bring relevance to work done in the classroom as the garden is transformed by the students into a beautiful sustainable food system, worked by them. And there is a greater benefit as well: when children learn to respect and care for the earth, in return, they learn to treat themselves and each other with respect and care.
information, contact Rivka at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the California School Garden Network website at www.csgn.org
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