Bethel Park High School and Elementary School Students Work Together on Gardening Project

Description

Elementary school students in Bethel Park School District planted seedlings into a hydroponic Kratky system. While growing in the Kratky system, the elementary students tended to their seedlings and tracked their growth. High School worked with the elementary school students to help plant seeds. When ready, these items were transferred to the Samuel and Anna Mae Richardson Community Garden. At the garden, they used a rototiller to prepare the soil and added Epsom salt, compost, and organic soil to the plants. A testing kit was purchased from the Penn State Cooperative Extension to determine what items needed to be added to the soil. During this project, students learned lessons on nutrition with the goal of enabling them to make healthy life choices.

The Garden Club members worked with local experts, including representative from a garden center, to construct raised beds. The club members learned about soil composition and the fourth graders grew seedlings, which were later transplanted into the garden in the spring. Garden activities were incorporated into the school curriculum in conjunction with the fourth grade’s Native American Social Studies unit. As part of the Health/Nutrition unit, the third grade held a plant food party, which involved taste testing a variety of foods from different parts of a plant. The students identified which part of the plant the food came from, and discussed what surprised them, and which new foods they would ask their parents to grow or buy.

Students grew sunflowers, string beans, herbs, zucchini, leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and radishes. Families signed up to rotate over the summer to water and weed the garden. At school during the fall, students from all grade levels participated during recess and after school to tend to the garden and to taste produce.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Diane Ford
Contact Person’s Title: Garden Founder/Coordinator
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (412) 523-8019

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • To work with children to sow and germinate organic seeds in their in-class greenhouses.
  • Students will transfer seedlings to a community garden and care for them until harvest.
  • To offer produce from the community garden to students.
  • To enable students to experience hydroponic gardening.

Advice

  • Get students to commit to caring for a garden over the summer.
  • Proper lighting and clear instructions are essential for students and staff to garden well.
  • Consider purchasing a soil testing kit to ensure your soil is ready for gardening.

Evidence of Success

  • Students took pride in caring for their plants. They read to their plants, watered their plants, and observed the growth of their plants.
  • Students harvested garden vegetables and shared them with the community.
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Abington School District Expands Garden with Garden Club

Description

After establishing an ornamental reading garden, Highland Park Elementary School wanted to expand their garden to include edibles, which they hoped to incorporate into the school’s nutrition program. Since a Garden Club was already in place, it was naturally chosen to spearhead the project.

The Garden Club members worked with local experts, including representative from a garden center, to construct raised beds. The club members learned about soil composition and the fourth graders grew seedlings, which were later transplanted into the garden in the spring. Garden activities were incorporated into the school curriculum in conjunction with the fourth grade’s Native American Social Studies unit. As part of the Health/Nutrition unit, the third grade held a plant food party, which involved taste testing a variety of foods from different parts of a plant. The students identified which part of the plant the food came from, and discussed what surprised them, and which new foods they would ask their parents to grow or buy.

Students grew sunflowers, string beans, herbs, zucchini, leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and radishes. Families signed up to rotate over the summer to water and weed the garden. At school during the fall, students from all grade levels participated during recess and after school to tend to the garden and to taste produce.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Francine Lee-Kim
Contact Person’s Title: Teacher/Garden Club co-sponsor
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (215) 884-1084

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • Students will expand their existing garden by assembling raised beds and preparing the garden to grow edible plants.
  • Students will maintain the garden through regular weeding and watering during the growing season.
  • The cafeteria manager will incorporate garden produce into the school lunch program.

Advice

  • Start with hardy and kid-friendly plants. Examples include zucchini, cherry tomatoes, peppers, herbs, sunflowers, sorrel, and eggplant.
  • Budget more than you think you need for soil and compost.
  • Collaborate with experts.

Evidence of Success

  • The foundation is in place to sustain the garden. The PTO have pledged to budget money to the Garden Club to grow edibles every year and families have committed to help maintain the garden.
  • The third grade taste testing “Plant Party” is on the curriculum for all of the district’s seven schools.
  • The cafeteria manager uses garden herbs in all schools.
  • Garden Club students ate and shared garden produce with their families.

 

Davis Elementary School Expands School Gardens

Description

Davis Elementary School has an active, student-based organization named Plant-it Earth (PIE). The club currently consists of 4th and 5th grade students, and is active in horticulture, gardening, and school beautification.

The PIE club hosts seasonal horticultural/greening events that attract a large number of students (60+) and their parents. After installing a two-bed garden in the school, members of the PIE club were interested in expanding their gardening activities and including a greenhouse, composting, and rain barrels. With the help of a Farm to School mini-grant, the PIE club accomplished these goals, as well as adding two more raised beds and a worm bin for their composter. Members of the PIE club meet during recess on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. Club members maintain the garden, and are divided into five groups:

  1. Wonderful Waterers water the plants both inside and outside the building.
  2. The Weeding and Pruning Patrol prune the shrubs and weed the outdoor beds to keep the plants healthy and looking good.
  3. Raised Beds grow some flowers, fruits, and vegetables in the raised bed gardens as a way to promote an interest in gardening among Davis Elementary students and staff. Whenever possible, school-grown produce is featured in cafeteria food sampling events.
  4. The Captains of Composting care for the worm composter and composting barrel. The group also periodically collects compostable food product from the cafeteria.
  5. Seed Starters plant and tend to the seedlings to be later transplanted to the raised beds and building grounds.

Students not in the PIE club get to experience the garden activities by taste testing items from the garden including strawberries, lettuce, Bok Choy, spinach, peas, potatoes, and onions. Additionally, each grade is able to participate in the garden project via age-appropriate science lessons. Signs at various projects (e.g. compost bins, worm boxes, raised beds) allow for ongoing incidental learning.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Mike Devitt
Contact Person’s Title: Assistant Principal
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (215) 441-6000

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • To add two raised beds to school garden
  • To install rain barrel to school garden
  • To add composting to school garden

Advice

  • Active student involvement is essential, just as it is in the classroom.
  • Create an infrastructure, or institutionalized practices, which will ensure the project can be sustained beyond the initial grant funding.

Evidence of Success

  • The number of student participants (more than 30) speaks to the effectiveness of the project.
  • The project is scalable to other grades as more staff express an interest in participating.

 

Charleroi Area Middle School Renovates Garden

Description

Howard Johnson is a Life Sciences teacher at Charleroi Area Middle School, which features a well-used school garden. Mr. Johnson wanted to inspire his students to become more involved with gardening, as well as improve upon the school’s raised beds gardening system, which, after ten years, was in disrepair.

The students toured Eden Hall Farm at Chatham University, in order to learn best practices in gardening and to be inspired by the most up-to-date methods of sustainability and crop productions. Students experienced aquaponics and hydroponics, toured the campus greenhouse complex, and examined the operations, solar panels, and irrigation systems of the farm. The group ate lunch in the university cafeteria, which practices a variety of sustainable processes utilizing vegetables grown on the campus and fish from their aquaponics pond. After lunch, the students examined the three alternative paths for the trash from each of their individual bagged lunches. They weighed the total waste from their lunch and separated it into landfill, compost, and recycling bins. This exercise provided a graphic illustration of each student’s impact on landfills. After this, the students visited Eden Hall’s gardens to learn and practice new techniques to plant three varieties of garlic. The culminating activity of the day was to visit the design center at the Eden Hall campus where students used energy 3-D computers to design passive solar simulators and create residential housing models.

These same students then rebuilt the district’s existing raised bed gardens in their school’s outdoor ecosystem. Eighth grade students designed two new raised beds utilizing sustainable materials. The new beds are larger and handicapped-accessible and offer a more efficient use of space. A greenhouse irrigation system was installed on the new raised beds and the gardens will be used for planting in the coming spring.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Howard Johnson
Contact Person’s Title: Middle School Life Science Teacher
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (724) 483-3600

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • Students will visit Eden Hall Farm Campus, Chatham University, to learn sustainability practices.
  • Students will learn about alternative energy sources and related benefits to crop production and housing.
  • Students will design and renew our school’s existing raised bed gardens utilizing sustainable materials.
  • Students will learn new techniques for planting garlic in a garden.

Advice

  • Set realistic, attainable goals and then expand rather than implementing a too-ambitious project.

Evidence of Success

  • Students learned new methods of sustainable gardening that are being incorporated into the school’s outdoor/environmental programs.
  • The school garden is being expanded with an aquaponics system utilizing tilapia. This will be operational by the coming spring. This system is a direct result of the trip to Eden Hall campus.
  • The new raised beds are completed. They are more accessible and offer more square footage for planting than the old beds. Recycled materials were used in the construction. The labor, provided by middle school students, proved to be a valuable learning experience.

 

Bushkill Elementary School Constructs Garden

Description

Bushkill Elementary School in East Stroudsburg Area School District enlisted the help of Penn State University’s Master Gardener program to help build the school’s new garden. The Master Gardener helped determine the best location to construct an 8’x12’ horseshoe shaped raised bed garden, which features an inner walkway. Various items were planted, including tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, and an assortment of herbs.

Volunteers from the school and community constructed the garden, which is fenced in and gated to keep out opportunistic pests. After initially attempting to start plants from seedlings, poor weather and time constraints necessitated the purchase of plants, which were then planted in the garden by students during recess.

Students from the school’s summer session tended to the garden every day. When items were ready for harvest, teachers created lessons on nutrition education and students were involved in harvesting, washing, cooking, and taste testing each item.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Debra Ann Padavano
Contact Person’s Title: Principal
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (570) 588-4400

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • Students will experience various aspects of gardening by planting, caring for, and harvesting garden crops.
  • Students will be motivated to try fresh grown vegetables and herbs.
  • Students will be able to taste test and receive nutrition education on healthy snacks produced from garden produce.

Advice

  • Planning is essential. Bushkill Elementary school contacted a local Master Gardener who gave his guidance and support.
  • Start small and utilize all available resources. For example, a local landscaper was generous enough to donate and deliver soil.
  • Involve all stakeholders. The PTO helped with additional costs and were excited about the project.
  • Build a support from the school staff. They can help with garden maintenance.
  • Plan to have the students do as much as possible.
  • Always allow a little extra time and money for a project such as this.

Evidence of Success

  • The garden thrived and a lot of produce was harvested, including tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers, and herbs.
  • Enthusiasm among the school’s students and personnel was contagious. Students enjoyed watering and checking on the garden. During recess, students checked plant growth and noted which items would soon be ready for harvest.
  • The school’s superintendent has offered additional funds to help expand the garden.
  • Students were excited for taste tests and willing to try garden produce, which they never before had the opportunity to taste. They could make connections between the smell of certain herbs and the types of entrees in which they are used.
  • Students learned to observe insects and learn which were beneficial to the garden.

 

Huntingdon Area High School Constructs Aquaponics Garden

Description

Huntingdon Area High School utilizes an outdoor garden and an indoor aquaponics greenhouse system to teach plant and soil science. Students and staff tried a variety of growing apparatus based on a technique called nutrient film technique (NFT) to incorporate aquaponics into the greenhouse. (NFT utilizes a pump to move a small, shallow stream of nutrient-rich water over roots through a channel, gutter, or tube.) Lettuce and tomatoes have been successfully grown. Students in the food and nutrition class will be able to sample the greens grown in the gardens and greenhouse.

Students in the high school’s Ag program are working to improve and expand the school’s outdoor garden. The outdoor garden uses a “mini-greenhouse” plastic cover to extend the growing season. Further improvements will include soil amendments. The produce is donated to the school’s lunch program and to a local shelter.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jarod Armstrong
Contact Person’s Title: Agriculture Instructor
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (814) 643-1080

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • Students will learn plant and soil science via an aquaponics garden.
  • Students in the high school Ag program will improve and expand the school’s outdoor garden.
  • Students in the food and nutrition class will be able to sample greens grown in the school’s gardens.

Advice

  • Do not be afraid to ask for help from local businesses or community members.
  • Involve other teachers and classrooms when possible.

Evidence of Success

  • This project has led to the increase in production of the school’s gardens. It has attracted student participation from traditionally non-agriculture oriented students. The productive, hands-on nature of the project has empowered student learning in a way that theoretical learning cannot.

 

Chef Trains Colonial School District School Food Service Staff on Using Local Produce in School Meals

Description

Colonial School District had been serving locally grown produce such as apples and tomatoes to students in the cafeteria, but these items were offered in their whole form in baskets. The district wanted to increase the availability of locally grown items by using them as ingredients in recipes. In order to achieve this goal, a local chef was hired to help train the head cooks and show them how to easily use local produce as ingredients in the school meal program.

The chef spent about five hours with the cooks, reviewing preparation and cooking techniques which increased their ability and confidence level in preparing meals from scratch. Items were sampled by all in attendance and the cooks had ample opportunity to ask the chef questions and were very interested in the concept of using local produce in as many ways as possible. The cooks learned a lot and asked many questions. Questions included queries about ingredient substitutions, possible short cuts, best choices in tools and equipment, and more. At the conclusion of the training the cooks were confident and inspired to use fresh, local ingredients in the school menu.

Locally sourced produce is being used in meals such as stir fries, roasted salsa, cream of mushroom soup, and a mixed fruit salad. These items have already been added to the menu at the high school and will soon be served in the other schools as well.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Lori McCoy
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food Services
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (610) 834-1670

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • Cafeteria staff will work with a local chef to create recipes using locally sourced items.
  • Food service staff will gain confidence in preparing new menu items.
  • There will be an increase in the amount of locally grown items served in a variety of forms (not just in their whole forms) in school meals.

Advice

  • Be sure to leave enough time for training. The staff was very involved/interested and had a lot of questions, which resulted in the session running long. When seeking a trainer, look for someone who is passionate and familiar with school food service.

Evidence of Success

  • Taste tests revealed that the items created were successful with both staff and students. The items were relatively easy to prepare and also tasted great. Some of the items have already been incorporated into the school meal program.

 

Columbia Borough School District Taste Tests Local Produce

Description

Students at Part Elementary School in Columbia Borough School District participated in two taste-testing activities. The first involved three root vegetables that were unfamiliar to the students: parsnips, rutabagas, and turnips. Each vegetable was displayed on a tasting table in whole form and in cut form. Rutabagas and turnips were cut into strips while parsnips were sliced into chips.

Students tried each vegetable and then were guided to posters of each item. Utilizing coordinated colored stickers, students voted for their favorite vegetable. The votes were tabulated and a pie chart was created to show the students their votes and the most popular vegetable, which was the parsnip. Students received coloring sheets and recipes to take home to their families.

For the second event students were introduced to a local farmer and educator who shared her passion for farming with students via an applesauce making demonstration. A delicious mix of locally grown apples was processed with an old-fashioned hand cranked press. Students participated in this activity and taste tested the applesauce, while another group listened to an apple story in the book corner, and a third group worked on math problems that involved apples, word searches, coloring sheets, and more. The students rotated through all three stations ensuring all students were engaged and having fun while learning and tasting. Teachers were given apple resource sheets to continue the apple learning in the classroom.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Christi Beazley
Contact Person’s Title: Trainer/Consultant
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (717) 606-2373

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • Students will be introduced to three unusual root vegetables.
  • Students will taste test each vegetable.
  • Students will vote for their favorite vegetable via poster paper and coordinating color stickers.
  • Teachers will share recipes and coloring sheets with the students.
  • Students will meet a local farmer to learn about farming and locally produced agriculture.
  • Students will be involved in an interactive demonstration, which will keep them engaged.
  • Students will make fresh applesauce.
  • Teachers will receive resource materials to support their efforts.

Advice

  • Engage support from community partners to make the event run more smoothly.
  • Ensure lunchroom staff promotes the taste testing to the students.
  • Remind the lunch staff to be supportive and make positive comments about the items being taste tested.
  • Encourage students to taste test and be prepared for negative results with a nearby trashcan.

Evidence of Success

  • All students tasted all three vegetables for the testing
  • Students have asked for parsnip chips to be served on the lunch menu.
  • Parents have shared that their children are asking more questions about local apples.
  • All students tasted the applesauce and 96% liked it.

 

Fell Charter School Builds Vertical Hydroponic Garden

Description

Summer students at Fell Charter School studied possible solutions to the challenges of population growth. They researched and studied land usage, traditional farming practices, vertical gardening, and hydroponics. Students created poster projects that outlined different hydroponic techniques, and debated which methods would work best in their school.

After agreeing on an active hydroponic system, students researched different designs. They decided on a vertical, sculptural unit. Students viewed photographs, and worked with teachers and the facility manager to reverse-engineer a workable design. They created drafts and sketches, made a supplies list, and assisted in the measuring, cutting, layout, and assembly of the entire unit.

When school resumed after the summer, this group visited multiple middle school classrooms to teach their peers about the advantages of hydroponic gardening. The middle school then planted the unit and maintained the nutrients and water levels to ensure optimum growth. Herbs were the most successful plants cultivated. Flowers and vegetables did not have enough structural support to grow effectively. The students used this as a problem-solving opportunity to discuss modifications that could have been made to the original design to avoid this in the future.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Jamie Seymour
Contact Person’s Title: Middle School Science Teacher
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (570) 282-5199

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • Middle school students will work with teachers and staff to design, construct, and maintain a portable hydroponic gardening system to grow plants and vegetables on campus.
  • Students will learn about population trends and the environmental challenges associated with a growing population.
  • Students will learn how hydroponic vertical gardening/farming can be a possible space saving solution to a growing human population.

Advice

  • Involve students in every phase of the project-especially the construction phase. The practical skills that students learned during the design and construction was critical to their understanding of how the system works and allowed them to be more effective during the problem-solving phase at the close of the project. Constructing the garden was the phase of the project the students most enjoyed. It was the first time most of them used power tools, and performing the majority of the build gave them a sense of accomplishment and ownership over the project.

Evidence of Success

  • Once the design and construction phase of the project was implemented daily attendance at the summer session improved and participation increased significantly. During questioning sessions and informal assessment, all students raised their hands to provide opinions and answers. Pre and post-test scores (on hydroponics, population growth, and environmental issues) showed a marked increase. Students also asked more in-depth questions and exhibited more sophisticated answers to questions.

 

J.R. Masterman School Brings the Farm to the School

Description

J.R. Masterman school in the city of Philadelphia wanted to provide their students with a farm and gardening experience without resorting to the time and expense of creating their own school garden. As a result, they partnered with a company called Greener Partners so students could participate in something called The Farm Explorer Spring Adventure.

This involves a specially prepared vehicle, which brings the “farm” to the school, and meets the objectives of a student-led health initiative called HYPE (Healthy You Positive Energy). Its goals are to increase movement during school hours, decrease access to unhealthy food choices at school, and to increase healthy food options and education during school hours. The Farm Explorer program is science and nutrition education wrapped up in an interactive, fun, food adventure.

In early May, the indoor Farm Explorer classes focus on plant and soil science, nutrition education, and seasonal agricultural cycles, plus healthy recipe preparation and taste tests. In June, the classes go outside to experience the Farm Explorer Truck, which is full of more than 35 fresh growing fruits and vegetables primed for experiential science lessons, harvesting, cooking, and tasting. This truck drove right to the school and created an outdoor classroom for the students. Each student eats one serving of fresh, local fruits and vegetables at every Farm Explorer visit. Visits were scheduled to coincide with health classes and lunch.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Sally J. Moore
Contact Person’s Title: Teacher
Email: : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (267) 210-2429

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • Students will have a farm experience with related science and nutrition lessons without leaving the school.

Advice

  • Schedule carefully to optimize time.
  • Scheduling indoor classes in the same room is helpful since there is a lot of plant material being brought into the classroom. Because of this moving from one room to the next is difficult.
  • Have a designated food prep space for taste tests.
  • Have a contingency plan in the event of inclement weather.
  • Early morning communication is needed in the event of inclement weather.
  • Consider preparing a post-event evaluation form for students.

Evidence of Success

  • Observing students interact with the Greener Partners it was clear the project was a success. Students learned about plants and afterward there was always a lot of discussion and questions. As they harvested plants, the students made their own edamame pesto by pedaling a blender bicycle. Students were interactive and inspired. They had fun and loved the taste tests of food that they prepared themselves. When asked who would be making this healthy snack at home from a recipe provided a majority of hands were held up.

 

Lancaster School District Renovates and Expands Garden

Description

Lafayette and Wharton Elementary Schools are part of the School District of Lancaster. As urban schools, they are limited in green space and are surrounded by asphalt and concrete. Both schools made good use of unused areas on school property to build gardens. Lafayette turned an enclosed courtyard into an outdoor learning center with the garden serving as one of many teaching and learning stations. Wharton partitioned a corner section of school property to keep the garden’s storage shed and build a nearby garden. Both schools relied on gardening experts to ensure that students could get a solid foundation of knowledge. Once the gardens were in place, teachers used them as an extension of the classroom to give students the hands-on experiences and practical applications of lessons in science and math. The gardens were also used in Health class for discussions on healthy eating and making good choices. To increase the opportunities for student involvement, the gardens were used in afterschool and summer programs, where students maintained the gardens and harvested the fruits and vegetables.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Barbara Lombardo
Contact Person’s Title: Coordinator of Grant Development and Performance
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (717) 291-6149

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • To expand and improve existing gardens at two elementary schools by repairing aging raised beds and storage sheds and building additional raised beds.
  • To increase opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning for students both during the school day and in afterschool programs.
  • To use the school garden as a teaching/learning tool for all students in all grades for science, math, and health/nutrition.

Advice

  • Partner with experts such as the Penn State University Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners to teach students about growing fruits and vegetables and with local chefs to teach children about incorporating fruits and vegetables into healthy eating.
  • Seek out volunteers who have their own gardens for afterschool and summer programs to assist the students in creating and maintaining the school gardens.
  • Look into applying for the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables grant from PDE. If you qualify, it is a great program.

Evidence of Success

  • Participation in the afterschool Garden Club is up.
  • All grades are using the school garden as a teaching/learning tool.
  • Raised beds have been added to the existing gardens, and older raised beds have been repaired. The storage shed has been repaired and repainted.

 

Lackawanna Trail Junior/Senior High Implements School Gardens

Description

The Lackawanna Trail Life Skills program consists of students with various disabilities who range in age from 14-19. Previously, the school had raised funds for a school greenhouse, and they wanted to expand the program with a raised bed garden and some field trips to help students learn about growing plants in a greenhouse and garden

Students began by researching tools and seeds online. A field trip to a local hardware store taught them about the tools they would need, and which seeds would make the most sense to grow. The students learned to work within a budget. The class was able to use an old salad bar and, with the help of a Science and Graphics Arts teacher, they transformed it into an indoor greenhouse. Recycled water bottles and empty containers found in the cafeteria served as self-watering pots for the seedlings. Perseverance in asking was rewarded when a grocery store donated shelving for the greenhouse. Students learned that the plants could become too warm outside in a greenhouse even when the ambient temperature was cold. A Science teacher helped them regulate the greenhouse temperature.

The Life Skills class worked with two different science classes, learning how to test soil in an Environmental Sciences class and planting seedlings in a Physical Sciences class. After being planted in egg cartons the seedlings were planted beside the science wing of the school, where the students marveled at how quickly they grew.

The class took two field trips, first to Creekside Gardens, where the students toured greenhouses and learned lessons on planting and photosynthesis. The second field trip was to Conifer Farms, a Christmas tree farm, which also grows produce used in their iced tea, jellies, and salad dressings. Here students learned about hydroponics and picked produce from greenhouses. Then they were taken to a commercial kitchen where they went through all the steps needed to make jelly. Each student was able to take home a jar of jelly that he/she helped to prepare.

In spring, all the seedlings were transplanted into the outdoor garden, which was made from upcycled resin dividers. A variety of tomatoes, lettuce, beans, zucchini, herbs, and peppers were planted. A local organic farmer heard about the project and donated plants from his garden, and flowers were added as well. Several Life Skills students attended the extended school year and helped maintain the garden over the summer. These students were able to harvest produce during the summer, which they used in salads and in recipes.

Nice weather continued through the fall, which enabled the garden to continue to produce. This was shared with faculty and staff from the school as well as community members. Items sampled included fried green tomatoes and green tomato pie, which surprisingly tasted like apple pie.

At the end of the season, an order was placed for three new raised beds, which were assembled with the help of a community volunteer. Soil was delivered from a local business and the students used shovels to fill the three new beds as well as the existing garden.

The class took their final field trip to a farmer’s market to purchase produce for the annual Thanksgiving dinner. The students used their financial skills and talked to local farmers about produce. Students purchased corn, potatoes, apples, green beans, and acorn squash. The latter was chosen because students had never tried it. After consulting with the Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, two different recipes were used, and were met with mixed reviews. Still, the students universally enjoyed experiencing a new vegetable. By the end of the season, the students had learned a lot and looked forward to doing even more in the coming year.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Dr. Tania Stoker
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Curriculum and Resources
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (570) 945-5184

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • To grow vegetables and plants utilizing greenhouse and raised garden bed
  • To have students research items needed to grow plants and vegetables in a greenhouse and tools needed to transplant them in a raised garden bed
  • To have students care for the garden, utilize the produce in the classroom, and provide faculty, students, and community members with plants and produce
  • To have general education students in science classes learn about plants and gardening
  • To take field trips where students would learn more about growing plants in a greenhouse and garden
  • To take a field trip to a farmer’s market to get produce for a Thanksgiving dinner in the classroom

Advice

  • Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
  • Regulating the temperature in the greenhouse was challenging. Unusually warm weather in April necessitated working with the physical science teacher to help find ways to regulate the temperature of the greenhouse before transplanting plant to the garden bed.
  • When looking for items needed for a garden/greenhouse, look to recycle objects. An old salad bar was used as an indoor greenhouse. All seeds were planted in recycled water bottles and empty containers from the cafeteria. They were all built to be self-watering to help maintain healthy plants. Shelving, an expensive item, was donated by a local grocery store that was closing.
  • The garden beds were framed using resin dividers. These had previously been used at the elementary school playground and had been removed a few years prior and placed in storage.

Evidence of Success

  • All plants in the garden produced vegetables that were used in the classroom and with faculty, staff, and community members.
  • The garden produced items used by faculty and staff to be planted in their home gardens. Garden produce was used for taste testing in the classroom and for use in soup the school made to help the boosters during the football games. /li>

 

Northwestern Elementary School Transforms Courtyard to Garden

Description

Northwestern Elementary School in Northwestern School District converted an unused courtyard in the middle of their school into a raised bed garden. Four 4’x8’ beds were constructed approximated 30” above ground. Wooden beds, lined with black plastic to prevent weed growth, were filled with topsoil and Life Skills students planted a variety of produce, including tomatoes, pumpkins, beets, beans, peas, radishes, carrots, cucumbers, and peppers. Approximately 20 students enrolled in the summer session maintained this garden, and were allowed to bring fresh produce home with them as it ripened. When fall arrived, produce was harvested and used for student taste-tests. Students tried peas, radishes, carrots, green beans, broccoli, and kohlrabi. The latter was deemed “crunchy like an apple.” One student proved to be a broccoli lover and always focused on that when she went into the garden to harvest. Beets were sent home with the students along with recipe ideas. These Life Skills students had never seen vegetables growing in a garden before and some had never put their hands in dirt. They all had great experiences with the garden project.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Sandy Greenlee
Contact Person’s Title: Life Skills Teacher
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (814) 756-9466

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • Students will plant a small raised bed garden and harvest fresh vegetables.
  • Students can water, weed, and harvest vegetables during the summer program.
  • Students can prepare vegetables for taste testing.

Advice

  • Think small and then add on.
  • Have fun and enjoy your project.

Evidence of Success

  • Students during the summer session harvested and took vegetables home.
  • Many students became involved with the garden, including many who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to learn about gardening.
  • The garden generated support from the school board, students, and their families.
  • Students experienced fresh vegetables, including broccoli, green beans, and peas, directly from the garden.

 

North Clarion Elementary School Constructs Education Garden

Description

North Clarion Elementary School constructed a 50’x100’ school garden. A goal was to involve students in all aspects of the garden, including construction, planting, maintenance, and harvesting. A secondary goal was to hold a harvest celebration in the fall, when students return to school during which students and families would enjoy a meal, which would be prepared from the garden’s produce.

Corn and potatoes were chosen as main crops, with other vegetables and herbs added to the mix. The school collaborated with local farmers, gardeners, and a local outdoor business. Seeds, including potatoes, corn, squash, pumpkin, and tomatoes, were sourced from local farms. Students planted the seeds with educational guidance and instruction provided by school employees and supporting community members.

Summer maintenance of the garden was provided by school employees and the fall harvest was a great success. More than 400 students and adults were served a meal sourced from garden produce. Every school student participated in the event, which was covered by the local press. Plans have been made to expand the garden for the following year.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Keith Hastings
Contact Person’s Title: Principal
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (814) 744-8541

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • To create a student-focused educational garden to be planted in the spring by students and harvested in the fall by students.
  • Create a garden that will yield enough produce to feed the elementary school’s 330 students and their families in a single event at harvest time.
  • Students will learn proper gardening methods and the benefits of operating a successful garden.

Advice

  • Community support is essential. Many potential partners exist. Find them.
  • Involve student’s families. They love to get their hands in the dirt.
  • Ensure your project works the first year. Plan for success and rely on the partnerships you have created.
  • Make the garden big enough so that everyone has a part. Plan the garden to fit the size of the school.

Evidence of Success

  • Community partnerships exist and team meetings with these partnerships have and are continuing to be made. Plans are in place to expand the garden and increase educational opportunities related to the garden. The garden has received favorable reviews from the press.

 

Pennridge School District Utilizes Garden Clubs to Plant Vegetable Gardens

Description

Three years after opening its first school garden, Pennridge School District wanted to expand the concept to two other schools in the district. As the project unfolded, a new, more productive way of completing the project was realized. Both schools involved in the project established Garden Clubs before a garden was planted, and members of these clubs were enlisted to provide the bulk of the labor needed to complete the project.

The Garden Clubs, led by adults (teacher or parent), supervised students in planting seeds, watering, weeding, and harvesting, providing students with ownership of the projects. The Garden Club leaders reported to and coordinated with the Food Service Director.

Another key component of the project was utilizing “Sign Up Genius” to have families sign up for specific times during the summer months to water and weed the gardens. As a “thank you,” volunteers were allowed to take produce home that was ready to be picked since the school cafeterias were closed during these months. This also generated a sense of ownership among the students’ families.

Both gardens generated produce through the month of November, which was used in the schools’ nutrition programs. Cafeteria managers made signs advertising that items were made from garden produce. Some items on the cafeteria menu included fresh vegetable soup, tossed salads, roasted sweet potatoes, cream of broccoli soup, green pepper slices, roasted zucchini and squash, and fresh cucumber coins. The roasted sweet potatoes from the garden were so popular the schools ran out after the second batch, when normally the students cannot be induced to even try sweet potato French fries.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Gina Giarratana
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Nutrition Services
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (215) 453-2766

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • To successfully plan and implement two school gardens, which will yield, produce to be used in the school cafeteria.

Advice

  • Utilize students and staff whenever possible. This will not only provide help, it generate buy in.
  • If possible, plan a garden at a school that has an existing garden club but not a “vegetable garden club.”

Evidence of Success

  • $300 savings per site was realized by supplying the school cafeteria with fresh garden produce.
  • Schools with a garden have a higher degree of fresh vegetable sales than those without. On average, 4% more vegetables are served at these schools compared to schools of similar size without gardens.

 

Rupert Elementary School Installs Tower Garden

Description

The students at Rupert Elementary School in Pottstown live in an urban setting where land is at a premium and the opportunity to garden or gain insight into farm life is rare. The teachers and staff wanted to provide their students with the farm to school experience, since many children believed that food is something that only comes from a grocery store. The decision was made to purchase a tower garden, which would be used by the kindergarten class throughout the entire school year.

Students immediately fell in love with the garden. They started plants from seeds, which they transferred into the tower garden and harvested when ready. The children learned and used new vocabulary words such as “rock wool,” “vermiculite,” aeroponic,” and “harvest” along with the names and properties of many types of vegetables.

These kindergarteners were able to taste test many different types of herbs and vegetables. They learned the health benefits of many items, which they had never before experienced, as well as the process of taking a seed and growing it into a product ready to be harvested and eaten. The project culminated in a day in which these students invited their 4th grade buddy class into their room for a taste test and to share all that they had learned about gardening and fresh vegetables.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Shelby Lezzi
Contact Person’s Title: District Wellness Coordinator
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (610) 906-6529

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • To teach students about healthy foods
  • To introduce students to a tower garden

Advice

  • Have a lead person in charge of the project.
  • Utilize the tower garden salesperson. He can troubleshoot; give tips, and helps with needed supplies.

Evidence of Success

  • Students have tried new vegetables that they would never have experienced at home and have learned the benefits of consuming fresh fruits and vegetables.

 

Lauer's Park Elementary School Showcases Wide Variety of School Gardens: Reading School District

Description

Lauer's Park Elementary School in Reading is an urban school which features six separate gardens. Each garden serves a distinct purpose. The school utilizes the gardens in their curriculum to teach Math, Science, Reading, and Art.

Teachers, students, parents, and volunteers maintain the gardens during the school year. During the summer, the school’s Garden Club brings in students and their parents who work with a paid staff member to take care of weeding, pruning, and harvesting of vegetables.

Fourth and fifth grade students may join a Business Club. Members raise funds for garden necessities such as seeds, starter plugs, bulbs, and other items. Last year the club raised more than $2,000. Included in the fundraising program is a bulb sale. The Business Club purchases several hundred bulbs and, with student help, pots them and stratifies them. The bulbs bloom by in time for an Easter sale.

The gardens at Lauer's Park Elementary School include:

  • Human Sundial Garden
  • Greenhouse and Raised-Bed Gardens
  • ABC Garden
  • Native Plant Habitat
  • Urban Nursery

In addition, a fitness trail winds through the gardens so students can hike either a quarter mile or half mile without leaving the property. The trail begins on the playground where a tenth mile trail surrounds the playground. The trail features five fitness stations for physical activity.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Nick Hemmerich
Contact Person’s Title: Garden Coordinator
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (717) 222-0307

Category

  • Farm to School

Objectives

The Lauer's Park Gardens were developed with specific objectives. Some of these include:

  • To develop a garden for educational purposes
  • To create an educational garden for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st grade students
  • To provide a safe walking area and to beautify the surrounding neighborhood
  • To teach parents the skills needed to run a small business
  • To convert an unused area into an educational space
  • To provide hands-on experience for science classes
  • To provide a safe area for fitness activities

Advice

  • Each project brings with it a new set of challenges. Be sure to do lots of research prior to acting.
  • Ask everyone involved lots of questions.
  • Be tenacious. Most problems can be overcome if you are willing to continue to work through them and refuse to accept being stymied.
  • Spend the time to fully develop a plan for garden maintenance.

Evidence of Success

  • The Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture recently visited the gardens.
  • Classes are taught in the gardens including lessons on business, history, wildlife, and more.
  • Students, staff, and residents enjoy the gardens and fitness path.
  • Parents are taught gardening skills in the gardens.
  • Honey has been harvested and sold.
  • Produce is harvested which is enjoyed by children and donated to the food bank.
  • The gardens are sustainable due to the bulb sales and fundraising associated with them and each garden has its own plan of sustainability and development.

 

Robert Ketterer Charter School Implements School Gardens

Description

Robert Ketterer Charter School implemented an indoor garden with a greenhouse in the winter. Seeds planted included tomatoes (cherry, Big Boy, and Early Girl) kale, cabbage, hot and bell peppers, cucumbers, squash, beans, and lettuce. Herbs, including sage, rosemary, basil, thyme, oregano, chamomile, lavender, spearmint, and parsley started from seedlings.

In May of 2017, the project leader of the garden met with Penn State Master Gardeners to glean knowledge and advice on gardening. The landscape department of the school built raised beds for an outdoor garden using seedlings grown indoors. After planting, remaining seedlings were sold to students and staff at the school. The funds from this sale were used to fund the purchase of seeds for fall planting. Harvesting commenced on July 4th with a student helping to maintain the garden throughout the summer. Items included tomatoes, kale, and herbs. These items were used to feed the students who remained on the school’s campus for the summer. The kitchen staff made salads and sandwiches with the tomatoes. Kale chips were served to the students, who had never before experienced kale. Staff and visitors looked forward to Tuesdays, when they took home excess produce.

August saw the planting of the fall crop, which included cabbage, kale, radishes, beans, and Chinese cabbage. Haluski, created from Chinese cabbage, proved a big hit with all students. Salads featured radishes from the garden. Beans were consumed by student harvesters before they made it to the kitchen. Austrian winter peas have been planted to replenish the soil with nitrogen.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Cheryle Helble
Contact Person’s Title: Science Teacher
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: : (724) 537-9100

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • To start an indoor and outdoor garden
  • To use garden produce to augment school meals
  • To use garden produce in class as a teaching aid

Advice

  • Have students do all the planning. This generated buy-in.
  • Expect interest from both parents and students, and exploit their interest by having them help.
  • Plan in advance how the garden will be maintained over the summer.

Evidence of Success

  • The produce harvested was used in the school meals.
  • Parents and staff asked if they could bring produce home. Students, most of whom are from low-income homes, were able to have more fresh vegetables than they normally would have had without the garden.
  • Students took on a lot of the responsibility of the garden and are talking about having a community garden in the future.

 

Roberto Clemente Charter School Features Taste Tests and Nutrition Education

Description

Roberto Clemente Charter School in Allentown implemented taste tests using local products along with nutrition education. They conducted a presentation called “Healthy Eating during the Holidays” which featured a taste test of a beet and apple salad. Other taste tests included chickpeas and tomato salad, and a smoothie that included mangoes, strawberries, yogurt, and spinach, which have been included on the school menu. All fruits and vegetables were purchased from local farmers, and the students were given surveys after their taste tests to assess the acceptability of the items.

During breakfast, the students were able to compare conventional versus organic apples from a local organic farmer. The nearby Rodale Institute, in collaboration with the school’s dietitian, provided education on organic vs. non-organic produce.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Roba Bozakis
Contact Person’s Title: Dietitian
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (484) 274-4200

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • To provide students the opportunity to taste test fruits and vegetables that they otherwise would not have experienced.
  • To provide students with nutrition education with the goal of developing healthy eating habits.

Advice

  • Preparing smoothies the day before saves a lot of time and still results in a good product.

Evidence of Success

  • 90% of the students who responded to taste test surveys liked the fruits and vegetables they sampled and would like to see them incorporated into the school meals program.

 

Smethport High School Plants School Garden

Description

Smethport Area High School desired to plant a school garden to be used by, and for the benefit of, students of the school. Students, working within a set budget, determined that they could build five 4x8 foot raised bed gardens. These were constructed in the classroom and carried outside for installation. To install the beds, the students dug up sod and installed a weed barrier before filling with free compost obtained from a local municipality.

Students worked with a Penn State Master Gardener to learn how to start seedlings within the classroom. Each student was assigned a plot to prepare. Due to inclement weather, the seedlings spent eight weeks inside before being planted into the outdoor garden. They were transplanted with the aid of the Master Gardener. Beds were labeled at this time so that students could work in their designated area. For the remainder of the year students tended to their garden space.

Students from the Summer School program cared for the garden. They continued to weed and water, and harvested peas, beans, zucchini, and other produce as it became ready. These students also performed mini lessons related to plant growth and the importance of proper soil preparation.

When students returned in the fall, they immediately started harvesting garden produce. The garden thrived over the summer and there was much work to be done, including researching meals to be created by the garden harvest. Every day, the garden produce was used in a different recipe. All the students were given an opportunity to prepare a dish. A favorite was spaghetti squash with homemade marinara sauce.

Harvesting produce continued until early November. Students made countless meals including the Farm to School celebration in October. The last produce was used during the school’s Thanksgiving Day celebration where students made zucchini bread sticks. Finally, all the plants were pulled from the raised beds to be composted.

Contact Information

Contact Person: David Wolfe
Contact Person’s Title: Teacher
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 887-5545

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • Students will learn how to construct raised bed garden plots.
  • Students will learn how to start seedlings indoors.
  • Students will learn how and when to plant the small plants which were started from seedlings.
  • Students will participate in the maintenance of a raised bed garden throughout the growing process.
  • Students will actively participate in the harvest of the produce from the raised bed gardens.
  • Students will research recipes that can be used to prepare the produce for consumption.
  • Students will cook the food produced from the garden to consume in meals prepared for the entire class.

Advice

  • It is okay to think big! At the start of the project, the plan was to start small. When success was realized, the decision was made to do more. This led to doing things more than once. In hindsight, it would have been better to start with a bigger plan and save time from having to do things twice.

Evidence of Success

 

Saint Bernard School Establishes School Garden Club

Description

Saint Bernard School in Pittsburgh introduced a Garden Club, which assisted in the expansion of their school’s garden. This included both adding new cedar planters and a new, aquaponic tower garden. The Garden Club met once a week to assist with the planting cycle and utilize the harvest both in and outside of the school. The club planted items from bulbs and seeds and maintained them under grow lights until they were ready to be transplanted into the outdoor garden. During the growing season, the club maintained and harvested items from the garden.

The Garden Club created lavender-infused Epsom salt packets to share as gifts and held taste tests with herbs and produce. The entire fifth and eighth grade classes were encouraged to take home parsley and integrate it into a family meal, and then report to the school with recipes and photographs. These photographs were included in a garden video that was shared with the school community. In addition, the Wellness Committee held a Harvest Party in the fall, a Wellness Day in the spring, and a plant sale during a May Festival. These events allowed students the opportunity to try alternative Thanksgiving themed recipes, learn destressing techniques and body movement relaxation, plant mini-gardens for home, and create tasty and healthy smoothies.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Elizabeth Mick
Contact Person’s Title: Development Coordinator
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 341-5444 ext. 325

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • Students in grades 4-8 will participate in the planting cycle of our outdoor and aeroponics garden and will incorporate their harvest into classroom projects, school-wide events, and family meals.

Advice

  • Communicate your efforts clearly with faculty members. It is imperative to generate support from teachers for the garden club.
  • Encourage faculty members to implement the garden into their curriculum and use grades as motivation to complete projects.

Evidence of Success

  • 13% of students in grades 4-8 have joined the Garden Club and participated in the 2017-2018 school year planting cycle.
  • 26% of students in grades 5 and 8 participated in the Parsley Project.
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St. Luke’s School Involves Students in School Garden

Description

St. Luke’s School in Erie has a garden that was established by parishioners. The garden was in need of some improvements and there was a desire to involve kindergarteners and pre-kindergarteners. These young students became involved in the garden by planting seeds in the classroom, and then transplanting them at the appropriate time to the garden. Items started from seed and germinated include tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, eggplant, and peppers.

This project taught important lessons on the life cycle and how food is produced. These urban students were able to experience gardening in a safe environment and these lessons were incorporated into the school’s curriculum. The school formed a partnership with the person in charge of the parish garden and the school’s teachers. A Penn State Master Gardener was enlisted to help with the program.

The students helped to maintain the garden, and over the summer, they held events called Summer Garden Nights. These events involved students and their families working in the garden and harvesting the produce. More than one hundred pounds of vegetables was harvested and donated to a local soup kitchen. During the fall, garden produce was used for both snacks for the students and in the school’s salad bar.

Other fall activities included a week long Farm to School Celebration, in which a local tractor dealer taught students about farming, and the local Dairy Princess visited the school with calves and taught the students how to make butter. In addition, representatives from a local pumpkin farm also attended and taught students about pumpkins and how to make apple and pumpkin pies. The project was so successful that parents requested that the older children be included in the garden activities and the school is now working on making that happen.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Haley Kolash
Contact Person’s Title: Teacher
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 483-7105

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • Students will maintain and develop an existing garden by germinating seeds indoors and then transplanting them into the garden.
  • Students will view plant life cycles and harvest produce from plants grown from seed.
  • To instill the act of service in children by donating excess produce to local soup kitchen.

Advice

  • Enlist the help of a Master Gardener. They are available via Penn State University’s cooperative extension. Ours taught both the teachers and the students. The students looked forward to seeing him and he helped enlist the aid of the community in the garden project.
  • Share your project with others. By joining different committees, you can raise awareness, generate excitement, and enlist the aid of community members. This enthusiasm can lead to the sustainability and expansion of your garden project.

Evidence of Success

  • The product is completed and will be expanded. The school administration is helping to find a new location with more space and the expanded garden will incorporate more grade levels. In fact, this has become a school-wide goal in order to meet the requirements of the Diocesan wellness policy.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta Catholic School Hosts Apple Crunch Day

Description

Saint Teresa of Calcutta Catholic School wanted to promote fresh, local produce to their students in 4th-8th grades, and did so by hosting an Apple Harvest Day. The kitchen coordinator of the school took charge by sourcing locally grown apples from a nearby orchard, as well as locally produced apple cider. She served the apples whole, as well as processed them in a variety of ways, including sliced, as applesauce, baked into an apple crisp, and baked into an applesauce cake. Students were free to choose a healthy snack during their normal lunch hour, and were encouraged to try the apples in different forms. All students sampled the apples, and comments were universally favorable. The hope was that by seeing the apples processed in a variety of ways the students would realize that they could enjoy delicious food while still making healthy choices. Another goal was to have students realize that pre-packaged foods, while convenient, are not always the healthiest or tastiest option available. Students received informational flyers as well as recipes to take home.

The event was a huge success, and there are plans to expand the event for K-3 students in the other campus. In the future, the school hopes to both process items in front of the students, as well as having the children fill out survey forms to give their feedback.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Melissa Guy
Contact Person’s Title: Advancement Director
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 637-3135

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • To serve students a healthy and balanced lunch throughout the school year, using locally sourced food when practical
  • To teach students about healthy foods
  • To introduce students to healthy food options that they would not have otherwise tried on their own
  • To empower children to make healthy food choices

Advice

  • When offering items for taste testing, try to have something that even a finicky eater will want to sample. For example, while some students will turn down a fresh apple, and still others will turn down sliced apples, almost no student will reject a chance to eat “cake.” By offering homemade applesauce cake, students who may be averse to eating fresh fruit were given the opportunity to eat a healthy, homemade “cake.” These students were given the opportunity to eat apples in a form that was acceptable to them, while still enjoying their snack and gaining the health benefits from eating fresh, locally sourced fruit.

Evidence of Success

  • Students tried and enjoyed the items given to them to sample.
  • A large portion of students opted to take apples in sliced and whole form.

Troy Area School District Students Interact with Local Food Producers

Description

In an effort to teach students about farming and local produce, students from W. R. Croman Elementary School were given opportunities to interact with local food producers. Troy Area School District has developed a working relationship with Northern Tier Gardens which is a hydroponic lettuce and herb growing facility that is powered by methane from a local landfill. The school district places weekly orders for fresh lettuce and herbs which are served in the school meal programs. Students from W. R. Croman Elementary School toured the facility.

Employees of Northern Tier Gardens, along with members of Penn State University’s Cooperative Extension, visited the school to teach the students about gardening. The students were given lettuce seedlings, which they planted in their classrooms and later transferred into the school garden.

Local chef, Adam Hall, used the lettuce and other locally sourced items to prepare a salad for the students. He also presented ideas for using local produce to school food service staff members during a Community Day Health Fair.

Other experiences included a visit to a local produce stand by Kindergarten students. They learned about growing produce and each brought home a pumpkin. First graders visited a local apple orchard. They received a lesson on pollination and apple growing, picked a peck of apples, and brought them home.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Bonnie Bixby
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (570) 297-1612

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • To offer local produce to students
  • To take students to a local food producers
  • To have a chef teach school staff and students how to incorporate local produce into meals

Advice

  • Consider local vendors to source produce. They are often willing to work with the School District and offer attractive prices.
  • Reach out to a local chef to train staff and inform students.

Evidence of Success

  • Students are taking more fresh produce in the lunch line, now that they are being offered fresh, local lettuce blends, which are purchased each week from Northern Tier Greens, and locally sourced apples and pears.

York Suburban Middle School Has Creative Taste Tests

Description

York Suburban Middle School wanted to inspire students to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and improve their diets. A sure way to do this is to involve the students in taste testing, and combine that with nutrition education and student involvement in the process.

The first thing the food service director did was promote a series of three taste tests. She gave them creative names, created excitement and suspense in the process, and involved the students in the events. The first event was named “Where Have You Bean,” which featured different types of fresh beans-green, yellow and lima. The second taste testing, “Lettuce Entertain You” had different kinds of leafy greens and a chef created “lettuce” rap. Finally, “We Are Rooting for You” enabled the students to taste various root vegetables.

The food service director promoted the events with clues. This created excitement among the students, who naturally speculated on the nature of the taste tests. Then the food service director, working with other staff members, promoted the event with fliers, posters, the school public address system and web site.

Students tasted these items during their lunchtime in the cafeteria, and the items included nutrition information, such as why a student should choose to eat the item in question and the positive effects it can have on health. Local farmers were invited to attend these events to talk with the students, and the students were further encouraged to participate by getting a sticker, and afterward they could place their sticker on a poster board which said either “I Liked It,” “I Loved It,” or “It Wasn’t For Me.”

The taste tests were a huge hit, and participation levels set records during the events.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Helen Heidler
Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 210-2429

Category

  • Farm to School/School Gardens

Objectives

  • To increase participation in school meals
  • To increase the sales of fresh fruits and vegetables

Advice

  • Remember to promote the events and collect feedback
  • Network by meeting local farmers at local farmer’s markets
  • Be creative when generating excitement among students
  • Students love stickers

Evidence of Success

  • Service numbers hit record highs on taste test days.
  • Some students were introduced to foods that they had never experienced before.

 

Edison High School Partners with Local Farm

Description

Edison High School in Philadelphia partnered with Greensgrow, a local urban farm. The school took two field trips to Greensgrow. The first field trip took place in January, and the students were surprised to find produce growing in winter weather. During this trip the students added compost to arugula plants in a hoop house after learning a lesson on composting techniques and strategies. Many students during this trip saw ducks and pigs for the first time.

During the second trip to Greensgrow the students harvested the arugula that they had previously cared for and made a pesto from the vegetable. The pesto was taken back to the school and the students taste-tested the product. This was the second taste test that students of Edison have experienced from garden produce. The first was a taste testing of parsley dip made from garden herbs.

In addition to these two field trips, employees of Greensgrow made three trips to Edison High School, with one more scheduled. During the first visit it was determined that the school's raised garden beds were constructed with pressure treated lumber so the parsley, cherry tomatoes, and basil that were grown there are now being grown in concrete planters in the front of the school. During this visit a site was found for rain barrels and new raised beds, which were constructed on abandoned tennis courts.

On the second visit, members of Greensgrow brought members of their new partner, Greener Partners, and added a compost pile, alternative raised beds in the Day Care area, and fruit trees (apple and pear) were planned to be planted in the new raised beds. Greener Partners met with school administrators to plan more gardening activities and summer internships with students. With the help of Greensgrow and Greener Partners Edison High School now has 10 new raised beds in their school garden. These beds are now home to the aforementioned apple and pear tree, as well as raspberry bushes and wild flowers which will attract pollinators. In addition to the fruit trees Edison has mint, thyme, lavender, and kale plants.

Contact Information

Contact Person: Robin Lowry
Contact Person’s Title: Health and Physical Education Teacher
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 620-0146

Category

  • Farm to School

Objectives

  • Students will learn to grow fresh vegetables and herbs.
  • Garden produce will be used in the school Culinary Program to prepare and serve students healthy foods.
  • Students will visit a local farm.

Advice

  • Cultivate a relationship with a like-minded community organization. Choose a group with a demonstrated commitment to shared goals. Clarify what will be required of each partner and schedule a pre-visit to each site.

Evidence of Success

  • There is a gardening buzz around Edison. Teachers and students are asking how they can get involved. The food that was made and served has been well received. Teachers and agencies that work within the school are interested in joining the gardening program and the school's partner (Greensgrow) has worked with the school's Culinary Department to develop menus based on the advice given in determining which items will grow best in the school's growing conditions.