Activities centered on “Cubby’s Garden,” a vegetable garden named for the district mascot, round out the third component of this project. Primary goals for Cubby’s Garden are to teach students about where food comes from and about the growing process.
Three Component Pilot Project: Taste-Testing, Use of Communication Technologies, and School Garden Activities
Cynthia Dawson Van Druff, Director of Upper Moreland Township School District Food Services, explains the success of her district’s Farm to School project in bringing fresh produce to the school community and in providing nutrition education about these foods. She describes the three components of the pilot project conducted by her district: taste-testing, use of communication technologies, and school garden activities.
This project’s taste-testing activities introduced students to over forty new fruits and vegetables in one year. Fruits were consistently the more popular new foods among the students, with the sweetest – watermelon, grapes, cantaloupe, and apples – being the most favored among the fruits that were tried.
A variety of media formats have been employed to publicize the district’s efforts at gardening, utilizing produce from the school garden, and teaching about a variety of nutritious foods. Positive changes in the school meals program have been promoted on a cooking show that features students preparing a recipe that includes vegetables grown at school. Progress has also been depicted in newsletters, photos, and video clips available from the food service department’s web site. The local newspaper has also run a story about Upper Moreland’s Farm to School activities.
Activities centered on “Cubby’s Garden,” a vegetable garden named for the district mascot, round out the third component of this project. Primary goals for Cubby’s Garden are to teach students about where food comes from and about the growing process. Children had opportunities to taste foods from their garden and to share them with others, in addition to facilitating and observing plant growth.
The entire elementary school program of 750 children has been actively involved in the gardening project, maintaining the garden as well as expanding it with more varieties of plants. Produce that has been grown in Cubby’s Garden includes several varieties of tomatoes and potatoes, celery, radishes, and carrots. These “homegrown” vegetables are often incorporated into the school lunch menus. Lettuce and spinach were cultivated to create healthier salads.
Kindergarteners have planted seeds in the garden and checked on them as they grew. First and second graders participated in an activity called“ garden in a glove.” This involves putting seeds into wet cotton balls and inserting the cotton balls into the tips of gloves. Each student could then take a glove home and plant it there in a pot or a garden.
Upper Moreland’s Farm to School Project has pulled together many people from the school meals program, the classroom, and the community: students, teachers, other staff, parents, and more. The success of the project has demonstrated the community’s dedication to children, education, and healthy lifestyles.