As I roast one of the winter squash that I bought at the Foothill farmer’s market, I can’t help but think how lucky we are that our kids have a garden at their school. While some of you are so familiar with the benefits of kids and gardens you might be thinking, isn’t the topic of kids and gardening, I don’t know, so 2002? After all, Alice Waters started her famous Edible School Yard project twenty years ago. But anyone who has taken a look at the Foothill garden during the growing season can see that the garden is not only beautiful with its towering sunflowers, reedy wildflowers, and boulders to sit on (a class present from a graduating class of 5th graders), but it is alive and vibrant with a variety of vegetables and fruits.
The Growe Foundation, along with the Foothill garden volunteers, Shayna Samuels Turner and Molly Bayer, make this outdoor classroom possible. The Growe Foundation has been involved with the Foothill garden since 2010. The benefits of the partnership are abundant: Growe Foundation provides a curriculum for each grade level that gets the kids, teachers and volunteers out in the garden to plant, observe, search for bugs, weed, and harvest each fall and spring. They provide the seeds, the tools, the materials, as well as their expertise, and the Foothill community gets a beautiful, outdoor learning space that provides multiple hands-on learning opportunities. Each spring, the 2nd graders harvest the lettuce, spin it dry, weigh it and then hand it over to the school lunch program to use in the salad bar. Over the summer, the garden is tended by Growe Foundation staff and volunteers. In the fall, the 3rd graders come out to the garden to harvest and organize the bounty to sell at the Foothill farmer’s market. All the money raised at the farmer’s market helps pay for the garden, and this year the Foothill garden had the good fortune to be the recipient of the Lucky’s Bags for Change program which provided additional funding to offset the costs of the Growe Foundation partnership expenses and helps pay for site improvements.
A couple of weeks ago I stopped by the garden while Shayna was overseeing Ms. Hoskins’ class of 3rd graders harvest grape tomatoes and pumpkins. “Try it, taste it,” she encouraged the kids as they brought up bowls full of grape tomatoes.
“This is my first year of gardening,” Shayna said. “I signed up to help with the garden as a way to learn and share my enthusiasm about gardening. Before I started with the garden, I had never cooked with kohlrabi or tasted nasturtium (an edible flower that grows in the Foothill garden). It’s a great resource to have at school that is so different than classroom learning.”
Molly has been helping with the garden since it started, over six years ago. “I really like the experiential education component of the garden,” she said. “Especially the opportunity kids have to see first hand the entire process of how food is grown, from planting the seeds to harvesting and eating it.”
Thank you to the Growe Foundation, Shayna and Molly, all the teachers who get their students into the garden two times a year, and the parents and community volunteers who make the garden an incredible resource for Foothill
Mom to: Grayson, KG, and Ruby (Foothill grad '16)
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