Home Page

Search

Hint: Click on title to expand and view description.

  • Utilizing the School Garden as a Learning Lab: Rogers Primary School, Shaler Area SD

    Description

    Rogers Primary School’s garden has been carefully planned so that lessons which were previously taught in the classroom can now be presented in a new and natural environment. Students are learning about their eco-system and how it relates to the food supply. They are gaining hands-on experiences with composting, sustainable agriculture, how food is grown, and the processes that are involved in bringing food to the table.

    In addition to these science-oriented lessons, the garden provides an environment for learning mathematics, reading, nutrition, art, Social studies, music, and physical education. The garden area consists of the following:

    • A greenhouse which allows the students to grow flowers and vegetables.
    • Trails with various types of observation areas. These include different types of gardens (e.g. butterfly, herb, vegetable, and flower) and plant identification signs.
    • A teaching area with benches for students and a table which the teacher can use for teaching and lab work.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: David Lippert
    Contact Person’s Title: Teacher/Project Coordinator
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 492-1200

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To teach students gardening skills
    • To utilize a garden environment to teach required curricula
    • To unite the school with the local community

    Advice

    • Define exactly what you hope to accomplish with a garden and plan accordingly.
    • Incorporate the teaching of required lessons with garden activities.
    • Allow enough time to promote the project and to enlist help from members of the community. By recruiting and inspiring local community members you can build momentum for the project which can snowball.
    • Apply for grants.
    • Home improvement stores are often willing to provide material, financial, and labor assistance.
    • Community members can donate time, money, seeds, plants, materials, and specialty knowledge.
    • Document the progress of your garden (e.g. take before and after pictures and home movies). This can be used for marketing purposes later.

    Evidence of Success

    • The garden is being utilized as planned: to teach math, science, and other subjects from the school’s curriculum.
    • The students enjoy physical activity during garden experiences.
    • Community members became involved in the construction and care of the garden.
    • A Garden Committee is forming in order to ensure the promotion and sustainability of the garden. Each grade will have a student representative on the committee along with other representatives from the school and community.
  • School Garden Science Project: The Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Charter School

    Description

    This school garden is supervised by the science teacher for third, fourth, and fifth grades. There are 120 students in these science classes, all of whom participate in the garden project. Each class receives two, one-hour science lessons a week, and, weather permitting, half of each of these lessons is working on the garden project, for a total of about one hour a week in the garden per student/science class. Some of the Kindergarten through second grade teachers also have their students contribute to the project by visiting the garden to water the plants.

    Seeds were planted inside the classrooms in March. The students dutifully observed and cared for their seedlings’ light and water needs until the second week of May, when the students transplanted the seedlings into raised outdoor beds. This is when they also began to start some plants inside a greenhouse located within their garden area.

    The entire garden area includes an eight foot by eleven foot greenhouse plus five raised beds, each of them four feet by five feet.

    Although nothing has ripened enough to be eaten as of this writing, the students are expecting to be eating from their very healthy garden before school ends on July 8. With the new school year starting up again on August 25, there will be many opportunities to eat from the garden at the beginning of the new school year, as well. Plans include serving garden produce to the students for their snacks.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Teresa A. Grande
    Contact Person’s Title: Teacher
    Email:[email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (412) 721- 0261

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will plant and harvest their own vegetables.
    • Students will learn about healthy eating habits.
    • Students will experience having a garden despite the school’s urban setting.

    Advice

    • Research what it takes to create a school garden. Find out how others have organized this type of project: how to keep the students involved and enthusiastic, how to find volunteer help, how to schedule garden work, etc. Find out how to manage a garden in special settings such as this garden’s urban environment.
    • Recruit many volunteers to help with the project. Begin recruitment during the previous school year.
    • One source of volunteer help might be local gardening groups.

    Evidence of Success

    • In science class the students are able to discuss how to start and care for a garden.
    • Students know what to do when they are in the garden. They know when and how to plant, weed, feed, water, and harvest the garden plants and produce.
    • Students have become enthusiastic about gardening.
    • The garden plants are large, healthy, and producing food.
  • The Farm to School Project, Nutritional Development Services, Archdiocese of Philadelphia

    Description

    Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese was contacted by a representative from Red Tomato, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit brokerage operation that helps family farmers find markets. Red Tomato wanted to find out if there were opportunities for farmers to sell their produce to the Archdiocese’s many school food service programs. Patrick Temple-West, founding director of the Nutritional Development Services (NDS), and former board member of the Food Trust, led the initiative for the Farm to School project of the Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese, and Joan Reitz, the Purchasing Manager at NDS, agreed to try this new approach. Although she admits to being skeptical at first, Joan has been pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the partnership and plans to continue to purchase local items as long as her standards for quality and price are met.

    In 2004, as part of this Farm to School project, NDS began to purchase seasonal fruits – primarily apples, but also pears, peaches, and nectarines – from Beekman Orchards, a large local grower. Presently, NDS purchases seasonal fruits from another local supplier, Bear Mountain Orchards, in Aspers, PA. The farmer, John Lott, delivers the fruit directly to the warehouse just like any other supplier. NDS accounts for seasonal availability by simply listing “fresh fruit” on the printed menus. Generally, peaches and nectarines are offered in the late summer, and apples are served in the fall. To promote nutrition education, NDS periodically hands out information sheets to students about the foods they eat. Nutrition information sheets have been made for varieties of apples and peaches. It is hoped that after students learn the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables, they will share this information with their families, so they are encouraged to take the info sheets home.

    The cost of the produce was originally an issue; however, Bear Mountain Orchards has been able to provide fruit at a competitive market rate without outside funding for the program. Additionally, the partnership with Bear Mountain Orchards has fit into the conventional purchasing and provision system and has not required additional labor or purchase of kitchen infrastructure. With no extra funding required and support from NDS, this program is sustainable.

    The Archdiocese serves about 18,000 meals per day, including breakfast and lunch, at 150 Catholic and charter schools in the Philadelphia area. During the summer, these numbers grow to 36,000 meals as NDS also administers many summer meal programs at schools, churches, and community centers.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Anne Ayella
    Contact Person’s Title: Assistant Director, Community Relations
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (267) 262-8901

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Local fruits will be incorporated into meals provided by the Archdiocese.
    • Nutrition education will be promoted in schools.
    • Students will share nutrition information with their families.

    Advice

    • Farmers must consistently supply fruit that complies with USDA standards of uniformity and size. It is important to be clear about this from the start of a Farm to School Program. One of the advantages of working with Bear Mountain Orchards is that Lott has been accommodating in this regard, and fruit sizes are uniform.
    • Schools should work with a supplier whose produce packaging will make the transitions from farm to warehouse to kitchen to plate as simple as possible.
    • Students are not always familiar with all of the fruits served, but their participation will increase with taste testing. Students are often surprised at how much they enjoy new fruits.
    • It is important to select fruit that has a long enough shelf storage life such as apples, pears, etc.

    Evidence of Success

    • Consistent, positive feedback from lunch managers, principals, and teachers stating that students are more willing to try new fruits.
    • Teachers have noticed a decline in students bringing sweets to school for birthdays or other special occasions; many now bring fruit cups to share.
    • Afterschool cooking clubs have begun to try more nutritious recipes.
  • "Growing Our Future” Program Includes School Gardens and Farm Tours: Owen J. Roberts School District

    Description

    This program was piloted in one school, East Vincent Elementary School (EVE), beginning with an outdoor educational garden. The pilot program at EVE expanded to nutrition education and guided discovery that supports Pennsylvania Standards for Kindergarten Education. EVE Kindergarten teachers received a grant to provide whole food snacks (foods that are grown). Students learn about “healthy choices” in a variety of ways. The program has now expanded through the PA Department of Agriculture Healthy Farms, Healthy Schools Grant to include all district kindergarten students in five elementary schools.

    Individual kindergarten classrooms use indoor and outdoor gardens, nutrition lessons, cooking demonstrations, food tastings, farm visits, farmer talks, and a culminating hands–on Farm Day to integrate farm, food, and health relationships into the curriculum. Topics include family–school–community partnerships; health, safety, and physical education; reading, writing, speaking, and listening; science and technology; and environment and ecology. Big books and other resources help teachers coordinate lessons. “Growing Vegetable Soup,” “Eating the Alphabet,” and “Diary of a Worm” are among the books used.

    Kindergarten students cultivate fresh vegetables, and they taste foods they may not have otherwise tried. A local farmer visits each school to plant pea sprouts that the students harvest and eat. Lessons focus on whole food snacks as much as possible. Owen J. Roberts kindergarten students experience local foods in many ways, and they are encouraged to make intelligent food choices. They focus on five behavioral outcomes:

    • Eat a variety of foods;
    • Eat more fruits, vegetables and grains;
    • Eat locally produced foods more often;
    • Become comfortable with basic food preparation and safety; and
    • Be physically active.

    Kindergarten teachers use fun and behavior–focused nutrition education strategies to increase acceptance and preference for healthful and local foods. Educational trips for parents and students to local farms include the Milky Way Farm. Maysie’s Farm and Conservation Center also supports the program. Kindergarten Farm Day, a hands–on educational field trip in May that is planned and provided by high school agriculture students, provides:

    • Opportunities for students to apply what they have learned about the grain chain;
    • An opportunity to become “farmer for a day” and take products to market;
    • Hands–on exposure to farm animals, local foods and butter–making; and
    • An interactive concert.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Jo-an Rechtin
    Contact Person’s Title: Wellness Coordinator
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 469–5697

    Category

    • Health Education

    Objectives

    The program strives to:

    • Increase the student and parent connection to food sources through growing and harvesting of foods in educational outdoor gardens and through visits to working farms;
    • Increase the consumption of nutritious food by teaching children and parents how to make better food choices;
    • Increase student and parent awareness and value of locally grown food and enlist the support of parents to help increase children’s consumption of fresh local products;
    • Support Pennsylvania’s agricultural landscape and economy by teaching students and parents agricultural and natural resource stewardship, by offering access to local foods, and by teaching how to cook with local foods; and
    • Build community and sense of place in the community through various opportunities to meet local farmers and chefs; and
    • Increase children’s consumption of fresh local products through participation in a community Farm Market event.

    Advice

    • Food allergies present challenges with experimental food programs. We work to be as inclusive as possible, but not every child can participate in every activity.
    • It is expensive to provide healthful snacks — at least one dollar per day per student. Delivery fees compound the expense.
    • It is ambitious to provide this program district–wide in 16 classrooms and 5 schools. The program could not succeed without volunteers and a dedicated grant manager.
    • It is a concern that students are not motivated to continue the habits they adopt in kindergarten.
    • Our next step is to introduce a nutrition program, “There is a Rainbow on My Plate,” to district second graders.

    Evidence of Success

    • At first, teachers were extremely cautious to adopt the program due to so many demands and priorities that already seem overwhelming. After one year, the results, including parent/student feedback, were so positive that every teacher embraced the program. Many teachers noted behavior changes in their students when provided with healthful snacks.
    • The kindergartners are easily motivated to learn how to be healthy.
    • Students react to food offerings in the classroom differently than they may at home. They look forward to trying new things.
    • Students ask their caretakers to provide the healthful snacks they sample in the classroom. Many families would never have tried hummus, carrot cookies, or even vegetable soup. Parents ask for and use the recipes used in school.
  • Planting Winter Vegetables: Avon Grove Charter School

    Description

    The Avon Charter School originally had difficulties with their school garden because they planted a lot of crops which required attention throughout the summer, when students and other stakeholders were often out of town. This problem was largely solved by planting items which are seasonal to the winter (potatoes, Brussels’ sprouts, carrots, etc.) and items which can be grown indoors.  The gardening which is done is incorporated into the school’s curriculum.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Kevin Brady
    Contact Person’s Title: Superintendent
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (484) 667-5002 ext:315

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To integrate a school garden with PSSA standards by using the garden to teach about science and the environment.
    • To utilize produce from the school garden for school meals

    Advice

    • Use the garden with special needs students. They seem to especially benefit from lessons learned in the garden.
    • Seek the cooperation of parents, members of the community, and as many stakeholders as possible.
    • The garden can be used with pre-primary students by using it to teach mathematical concepts.

    Evidence of Success

    • Students have responded favorably to the garden and they are enthusiastic about contributing to its success. Special needs students, especially those who are easily bored benefit tremendously and are better able to concentrate when in the garden.
  • Using a School Garden to Teach Special Needs Children | Pine Richland High School

    Description

    Special Education students learn best when engaged in hands-on learning. The school garden is a perfect venue for this. It is safe, all students can participate, and they can see the results of their work. The garden builds confidence, and the students can use their experiences to learn about math, science, reading, and arts.

    Students grow spinach, lettuce, kale and tomatoes in the school garden. This produce is used for the school’s salad bar. The students weigh the produce, determine its market value, prepare invoices, and keep a balance sheet.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Mark Schweers
    Contact Person’s Title: Special Education Teacher
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 625-5286

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To use a school garden to teach special needs students life skills
    • To incorporate the school curriculum into the gardening activities

    Advice

    • Incorporate the lessons learned in the garden into the school curriculum.

    Evidence of Success

    • Along with helping students learn academic skills, the most remarkable impact has been on the students with severe autism. The gardening program has helped these students learn to follow directions, communicate, and work as a team. The program gives students with severe autism an opportunity to make a contribution to the enterprise and to help it grow by doing daily greenhouse and garden chores.
  • School Gardens Program: Bucks County Youth Center

    Description

    This year we hope to start our plants indoors and then transfer them to our outside gardens. Residents who are not allowed outside of the facility will be able to care for the plants during the inside phase. Then other residents will move the seedlings to the outside gardens.

    We are also going to add herbs to our dining room planters so we can utilize them year–round. Our outside gardens presently consist of a variety of herbs and vegetables. Our food service staff freeze–dries the herbs and vegetables for year–round enjoyment. We will enlarge our gardens this year to allow for an increase in vegetables. We will add a pumpkin and gourd patch, along with watermelons, honeydews and cantaloupes. We also hope to start some fruit trees, and, if there is enough time, we may add a corn field. If we can secure the necessary resources and funds for a hot house, we also plan to grow crops year–round. Advice The program has been rewarding to both residents and staff, but it takes a lot of resources and volunteers to continue the success.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Jacqueline Froehlich
    Contact Person’s Title: Deputy Director of Operations
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (215) 340–8302

    Category

    • Health Education

    Objectives

    • To use our school’s gardens as a therapeutic tool.
    • To develop rapport with the residents.
    • To teach skills that will help residents transition into society.
    • To teach nutrition to the residents and aid them in selecting healthful foods.
    • To instill confidence and pride in the residents.

    Evidence of Success

    • Improvements in residents’ behavior, life skills, and self–esteem.
    • Decreased food costs during summer months
    • Improved food quality Improved variety of foods
  • Multi-Tasks With Hydroponic Gardening: Athens School District

    Description

    Athens School District uses hydroponics to teach students about gardening, health and nutrition, economics, and science.

    Approximately 350 high school students toured the Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority. This is a landfill which generates methane gas which is used to generate electricity and heat that powers a hydroponic garden. Hydroponics is a subset of agriculture and is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water, without soil.

    Lettuce from the Northern Tier garden was combined with other vegetables grown at Athens School District's own hydroponic garden and a salad taste-test was enjoyed by students in the cafeteria during a normal school lunch. Part of the taste-test included nutrition education where students learned about portion sizes, calories associated with typical ingredients, and the nutrition content of fresh fruits and vegetables.

    In addition, the students learned how their town's economy is affected by the production and purchase of local goods and services.

    Athens School District also has a hydroponic garden and indoor greenhouse which provides fresh products for students, faculty and staff.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Brian Wilcox
    Contact Person’s Title: Educator
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: 570-888-7766

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will use the greenhouse to produce fresh local produce
    • Students will learn how locally grown foods promotes their town's economy
    • To strengthen the connection between the school cafeteria and local food producers

    Advice

    • Before beginning make a positive affirmation to see the project through. Be fully committed.
    • Involve the students from the beginning of the project. Doing so generates their buy-in and ensures that their love of fresh food and gardening will be passed on to future generations.
    • Don't forget to involve the press. Doing so will demonstrate to the general public the good that is being done in schools and that you are trying to help stimulate growth in the local economy.

    Evidence of Success

    • The taste-test of a local salad was a huge success and nearly every student participated.
    • Students in Horticulture class who were involved in growing hydroponic vegetables expressed an interest in continuing to study the field in college
    • Positive local press was generated from the project
  • The Urban League of Pittsburgh Charter School Uses Garden Produce to Teach Students About Their History and Culture

    Description

    The Urban League of Pittsburgh Charter School wanted to expand their garden to include items of historical and cultural significance to African Americans, such as collard greens and turnips.

    Because space is at a premium at this downtown school it was decided to implement wooly pockets, which are a type of hanging planter. The pockets are able to hang from a greenhouse, thus no additional space is required for their use. In addition, the garden beds themselves have been expanded.

    After the students, teachers, and volunteers implemented the changes the vegetables were used for classroom lessons on African American history and culture.

     

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Teresa Grande
    Contact Person’s Title: Teacher
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: 412-361-1008

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Expand school garden to include traditional African American crops.
    • Students will learn about their history by utilizing vegetables grown in the school garden.

    Advice

    • Be creative. All schools face obstacles such as a lack of space or funds but creativity can combat these issues.

    Evidence of Success

    • Students have been making recipes using the newly introduced items
    • Students have had history lessons using the new vegetables and have shared their newfound knowledge with their families.
  • Exeter Township School District Holds Tasting Events to Promote New Food Items

    Description

    Exeter Township School District contracted with Chef Bill Scepansky to provide recipes and cooking techniques to four elementary school head cooks. After their training the cooks helped coordinate tasting events in each school. These events introduced students to new items which are locally grown and served in season. Parents helped in the events, which helped to reinforce the lesson to the students’ entire families. Every student, including those who normally bring their own lunch, was invited to participate. The first tasting event featured corn and black bean salsa, which is now a regular part of the school lunch menu. Other items included roasted butternut squash, Napa cabbage slaw, stir-fried bok choy, and Tuscan white beans with rosemary and Parmesan.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Gloria Clay
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-779-0700

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • The cafeteria staff will be inspired to prepare new, healthy, locally grown and seasonal food items.
    • Students will be served the new items and learn about them.
    • The school lunch menu will incorporate new items which the students response to favorably.

    Advice

    • Be sure to offer the new food items to all students. Doing so increases participation.
    • Involve parents in the project.
    • Take pictures of the new items and display them in the cafeteria as well as the school newsletter.
    • Remember to inform the school board of your activities.

    Evidence of Success

    • Some of the items have been incorporated into the lunch menu.
    • Some students who previously brought their lunches now purchase a school meal.

    Recipes

  • Penn Manor School District's Garden Provides an Outdoor Classroom for Students

    Description

    Students studied the parts of a plant, raised their own broccoli, spinach, leaf lettuce, strawberries, radishes, sweet potatoes, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, and pumpkins. They also re-purposed an old plastic kiddie pool into a makeshift garden box filled with broccoli and lettuces. The children enjoyed poking holes in the bottom of the pool to facilitate drainage before filling the container with soil and planting seeds.

    Students served their own garden produce in the form of zucchini bread, tomato salsa, pepper salsa, and mint tea to parents who visited the garden during a Garden Open House. The biggest hit of the night was the pepper salsa which was a family recipe of the assistant principal.

    The entire student body participated in a “mystery ingredient” contest*. The cafeteria prepared muffins using the mystery ingredient (sweet potatoes from the school garden). Then students tasted the muffins and guessed the mystery ingredient. There were over 550 guesses.

    Plans for 2014 include growing all of the above plus Mexican sweet gherkins on the entrance arbor. The school is also purchasing an indoor grow light cart that will travel between classrooms. This will enable students to study how seeds germinate and grow under different conditions. Classes will grow vegetables on their windowsills to be transplanted to the outdoor garden in the Spring. Students will taste garden-grown strawberries and the student body, which exceeds 600, will compete in a “Strawberry Poetry Competition.” The winning classrooms will have a strawberry sundae party. Sixth grade leaders will open a stand at lunch and give out stickers to students who try new vegetables (spinach and radishes) from the garden.

    *When providing food items with ingredients that are unknown to the students, be sure to be aware of possible food allergies and intolerances before providing the food.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Grace Julian
    Contact Person’s Title: Garden Committee Member
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: 717-684-4153

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • The garden will provide students with an outdoor classroom where they can learn about, grow, and eat nutritious food.

    Advice

    • Involve various groups in your garden such as Boy/Girl Scouts, local farmers, and businesses.
    • Invite families to taste testings at a garden open house.
    • Incorporate state standards into the garden lessons.

    Evidence of Success

    • Since the garden was implemented, Kindergarten through second grade students have a better understanding of the life cycle of plants as seen by verbal assessment.
    • Fifth graders have tried foods they normally would not have because they grew the items themselves.
    • The staff garden chair noted that “When kids go out into the garden their faces relax.” It's a place of beauty, exploration, and discovery.
  • Students in Urban Setting Experience Farming: Pottsville Area School District

    Description

    Most of the students in Pottsville Area School District have little to no experience with rural settings, farming, or healthy snacks. To combat this, first graders were taken on a field trip to Jersey Acres farm and taught the origins of their food. A guided tour of the farm provided lessons on what is required to produce the food that eventually ends up on a student's plate, the kinds of produce which are locally grown, and the challenges which farmers face.

    Once back home these lessons were incorporated into the Food, Land, and People curriculum in the classrooms. To complement these lessons the students planted mixed lettuce, herbs, and vegetables in their classrooms and these items were then placed in the school solarium. Each class took turns tending to these items.

    In the Spring, once the threat of frost had passed the students transplanted the items to raised beds in the school courtyard and continued to water and care for their produce. During the last week of school a local chef instructed the students to create their own salad dressing which they used on the items they harvested from the garden. Students who participated received a sticker and were encouraged to share their knowledge with their families when they arrived home.

    During the Summer Title 1 Reading Challenge students were given fruits and vegetables for taste testing, many of which came from the school garden.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Mary Ellen Setlock
    Contact Person’s Title: Federal Programs Coordianator
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: 570-621-7684

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students who live in an urban setting will experience the rich agricultural milieu which borders their city.
    • Students will learn the basics of farming and about locally grown produce.
    • Students will plant and harvest fruits and vegetables, taste them, and create recipes utilizing their harvest.

    Advice

    • Reach out to the community. You will likely be surprised at the support which local businesses will provide.
    • Spend time budgeting for your project and form a team to envision every conceivable expense. It's prudent to budget for some unexpected costs.

    Evidence of Success

    • Students kept science journals, logged their personal experiences, as well as charted the growth of their seedlings. This provided a tangible, measurable, way to keep track of their progress.
    • A year later the children are still discussing their farming adventures and the fun that they had making salads. These children can answer questions about farming and healthy snacking which they were unable to do before the project.
  • Seasonal, Locally Grown Produce Introduced to Antietam School District

    Description

    Antietam School District worked with their produce supplier to bring in seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables which students may not have tried at home.

    Three taste testing events were held at each of the schools which enabled students to try the new items in their raw (uncooked or processed) state. During the following months these same items were incorporated into the school lunch menu, which allowed them to try the items cooked. Teachers and cafeteria staff distributed information about the food items the students were trying and encouraged them to take home the fact sheets, activity books, and recipes to share with their families. In addition, the produce vendor made a television presentation which was shown to the high school students.

    Featured items included Empire apples, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, Asian pears, and corn and black bean salsa. All of these were incorporated into the school lunch menu.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Cynthia Jaromnak
    Contact Person’s Title: Food Service Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-779-0377

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    Students will experience seasonal, locally grown produce in the following ways:

    • Students will be given nutrition education on seasonal, locally grown produce.
    • Students will taste test seasonal, locally grown produce.
    • Students will have seasonal, locally grown produce incorporated into their school lunch menu.

    Advice

    • Offer new items to all students more than once. It takes time for the students to learn to like new things.
    • Generate buy in with the staff. Student acceptance is much more likely to occur when staff acceptance is already in place and cafeteria workers promote the new items.
    • Plan everything out in advance. Things will go much more smoothly.
    • Be sure to get feedback from everyone involved.

    Evidence of Success

    • Great feedback was received from students and parents.
    • New food items have been incorporated into the cafeteria menu.
    • When a new item was absent from the school menu for a length of time students would ask for it.
  • Harrisburg Math and Sciences Academy (Harrisburg School District) Partners With Business and Community

    Description

    The Harrisburg Math and Sciences Academy partnered with Seed Savers, an heirloom seed company from Iowa. The founder of the company visited the school garden and explained to the students the differences between heirloom and GMO seeds and provided the school with genetically unmodified seeds.

    In addition, a local CSA, Cool Beans, and Broad Street Market both contributed plants and seeds to the garden. A broad range of items including many different varieties of peppers, tomatoes, berries, herbs, lettuces, etc. were planted as well as flowers which were chosen for their ability to attract certain kinds of insects as well as helping to pollinate the garden.

    Approximately fifty students volunteered at least ten hours each to the project which not only included planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting but also establishing relationships with residents in a nearby retirement home. These residents shared the garden and its produce as well as stories and life lessons with the students.

    The school garden also served as an outdoor classroom for lessons in science, nutrition, and the local economy. During warm weather classes were held in the garden which dovetailed with the school curriculum.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Cynthia Craig-Booher
    Contact Person’s Title: Program Grants Administrator
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: 717-703-4519

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will be encouraged to volunteer in the school garden.
    • The school district will find partners with whom they can work to expand and improve the school garden.
    • Students will share the garden with members of the local community.

    Advice

    • Partner with your community, local farms, farmer's markets and seed companies.
    • Include the students in the planning phase. This will serve to empower them and generate buy-in for the program.

    Evidence of Success

    • Local farms and businesses have pledged support of the garden project.
    • The garden has been featured in favorable articles in local newspaper and television.
    • The success of this program has resulted in the school district's approval to fund a hydroponic lab for the coming school year.
  • School Garden Designed to Engage All the Senses: HMS School for Children With Cerebral Palsy

    Description

    HMS School for Children With Cerebral Palsy wanted to design a school garden that was not only wheelchair accessible but would also involve all five senses. Since some students have impairment of one or more senses it was important to ensure that the senses which the student does rely on are fully engaged in the garden experience.

    The garden is constructed so that it is fully functional for a person in a wheelchair. Beds can be raised and lowered, students can independently access water and compost, and the garden provides a sensory environment by offering wind chimes, strong smells, and a range of textures.

    Harvested items are used in a cooking group so the students can learn the process of how food goes from a seed to their table. However, some students are unable to eat by mouth. Therefore, it's important that they can experience the fruits and vegetables by smelling and touching them.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Shannon Sokolski
    Contact Person’s Title: Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist
    Email:[email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-324-4336

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students in wheelchairs will be able to independently access the garden.
    • Students will experience a garden which engages all five senses.
    • Students will learn how food goes from seed to table.

    Advice

    • Even if your students are not physically challenged you can improve the garden experience by making the garden more accessible and by involving all five senses. Divide all the elements of your garden into these five categories and ask what your garden provides.
    • Touch: How can people reach your garden? It can be made more accessible by having beds and planters that can be raised or lowered with a pulley system. Also, what feels cool to the touch? What feels rough? What feels smooth?
    • Smell: What smells good? Offer a variety of smells with popular herbs such as basil, rosemary, and oregano. Some wonderful smells, such as lemongrass, can provide double-duty by warding off pests such as mosquitoes. This will enable the students to enjoy the garden more.
    • Sight: Provide a variety of colorful plants such as strawberries, peppers, pumpkins, and tomatoes. Include colorful wind chimes and sun catchers.
    • Hearing: We can't hear the garden grow but we can hear the sound of rain into the rain barrel, the sound of water from a hose, the sound of a wind chime as the breeze blows.
    • Taste: This is self-explanatory but try to include a variety of tastes and textures such as sweet, sour, savory, crunchy, etc.

    Evidence of Success

    • The staff, students, and parents are all impressed with the garden area. The crop exceeded expectations and was used to teach the students about growing food and cooking. Students took plants home to continue to grow at home.
  • Bethlehem Area Vocational Technical School : Students Experience Locally Produced Food

    Description

    Bethlehem Area Vocational-Technical School students studying Culinary and Health careers teamed with the school food service staff and a local farmer to promote fresh farm products. The farmer, from Taylor Farm, is located seven miles from the school. Members of the farm came to the school to discuss the processes involved in farming. Items made from the farm's produce were sampled including strawberry rhubarb pie, smoothies, quiche, roasted acorn squash, and butternut squash macaroni and cheese. The farmer also provided locally grown fruits, vegetables, beef, and dairy products which the entire school population was able to sample during several event days. These days were promoted by Health career students via colorful posters which educated students about the benefits of eating fresh, local food items as well as the nutritional content and health benefits of particular items.

    Meanwhile, the Culinary Arts students researched and developed recipes which highlighted the locally-sourced items and prepared them for taste testing on event days. On event days the Health career students provided additional on-site educational materials which targeted specific food items. In total, approximately 80 students were involved, along with staff from the culinary program, lunch program, and health staff.

     

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Lisa Blank
    Contact Person’s Title: Business Administrator
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: 610-866-8013

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will experience local farm products in new and exciting recipes.
    • Students will learn about the nutritional benefits of local farm products.

    Advice

    • By serving a specific food item in a variety of different ways, in smaller portions, you increase the likelihood of its acceptance.

    Evidence of Success

    • Several items which were taste tested have been incorporated and have gained acceptance on the regular school lunch menu.
  • Lehigh Career & Technical Institute Provides Career Training for Special Needs Students

    Description

    Special needs students enrolled at Lehigh Career and Technical Institute are able to enroll in a Seed-to-Plate program which helps them train for careers in food production and preparation. The program began with the input of a local farmer who helped students and staff with the planning and preparation of a school garden.

    The farmer gave the school helpful hints and techniques for garden preparation and maintenance including watering, insect control, and companion planting. The plants started under grow lights in a window that leads to the cafeteria. Hundreds of students pass the plants each day on their way to the cafeteria. This same hallway is home to the “Cafe Garden” which features raised beds and picnic tables so the students can witness the progress of the garden and be inspired to make healthy choices while on their way to lunch.

    The special needs students are involved in planting, maintaining, and harvesting the items which are used in a variety of salads and herb dressings. Herbs are used in the preparation of other items which are then served during the staff lunch period and in items used for bake sales. Proceeds are used to support additional funding needed for field trips to the nearby Rodale Experimental Farm and the farmer's market.

     

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Sandra Himes
    Contact Person’s Title: Executive Director
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (610) 799-1322

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To provide special needs students with training for careers in food production
    • To expand garden space and grow vegetables and herbs to be used for on-site training and cafeteria purposes

    Advice

    • Involve area farmers or master gardeners-they are a valuable source of information.
    • Start with a small garden and use some plant plugs as well as seeds so students may experience a harvest before leaving for summer break.
    • Involve students in the planning, planting, harvesting, tasting, and creation of food items so they understand the “seed to plate” cycle.
    • Involve staff members in the project to give students support and feedback.

    Evidence of Success

    • Students take pride in their accomplishments.
    • Students talk about the project outside the classroom with other staff members, students, and their families.
    • Students are more aware of healthy food choices and are trying food items that are new to them.
    • Some students are creating gardens at home and trying recipes with their families.
  • Lancaster County Career and Technology Center Creates School Garden

    Description

    The LCCTC created two hydroponic tables (12'x4') and two tables (also 12'x4') of traditional, potted vegetables and herbs. The hydroponic tables included Boston Leaf Lettuce containing a total of 300 plants and two tables of potted plants with an assortment of 30 herbs and 50 vegetables. The hydroponic tables were customized into hydroponic systems by purchasing hoses and pumps and using pre-existing large tubs and the growing tables. Hydroponic float boards with holes to fit the net pots were used to put each plant in and set on the tables. The pumps are on timers that fill the table with water every four minutes and drain back into the tub. This occurs every 40 minutes. Every two weeks the water is changed and new nutrients are added. The potted plants are watered approximately every other day and must be watered last thing on Friday afternoon and first thing on Monday morning, since the building is closed on the weekends.

    Students were able to pick the leaves of most of the herbs to use in the culinary program for savory dishes and also to learn about how each herb interacts with heat, and tastes with other foods. By having the opportunity to taste, feel, and smell the fresh herbs, students have learned the differences and the value in these plants. The herbs included a variety of types including basil (five types), chives, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, stevia, thyme, and lemongrass. Students were also introduced to some less common vegetables including beets, bok choy, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, as well as the more common broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, onions, and spinach.

    The project will continue for the following school year with the idea of beginning early in the year to allow for additional harvest cycles and a wider variety of plants and herbs. A seasonal schedule will be developed as an expansion to the project.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Mike Moeller
    Contact Person’s Title: Special Projects Coordinator
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: 717-464-7050

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To create an indoor school garden by using the school greenhouse
    • To grow a variety of produce for the LCCTC culinary students to use in the classroom
    • To promote the use of fresh and locally grown products by having future culinary workers experience them first hand
    • To discuss and create multiple growing systems including traditional potted soil and hydroponic methods
    • To partner with local experts to teach students best practices for gardening

    Advice

    • Partner with local experts in planning the project. Seek out Master Gardeners, greenhouses, and farmers.

    Evidence of Success

    • The project was successful in developing a school garden that is being used to assist with a career and technical education culinary program.
    • The garden is teaching future chefs and bakers the importance of using fresh local products.
    • The project has increased local partnerships with other parties with similar interests.
    • The excitement of the project has spread to other campuses within the system as other programs are looking to purchase equipment to preserve, package, and distribute a “school brand” of produce.
  • Jamestown Elementary School Plants School Garden and Visits Farmer's Market

    Description

    Learning about gardening is a life long skill. Students at Jamestown Elementary School began the process by investigating how to garden, including methods of composting. Using books and the internet the students planned the project of building a school garden consisting of three raised beds. Before planting items in the garden the students learned about gardening from knowledgeable community members. They learned about seed selection, dirt preparation, cafeteria composting, growing, and tending to the garden. A team of “Garden Guardians” was assembled which tended to the garden over the summer. Students traveled to a local PA farmer's market in May and then returned for a harvest celebration in September, and harvested and tasted their own produce at the end of the summer.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Julie Harris
    Contact Person’s Title: Retired 6th Grade Teacher
    Email:
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (814) 720-7369

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • Students will learn how to garden.
    • Students will visit a local farmer's market.

    Advice

    • Remember to constantly update information for students (e.g. posters, books in classroom, other information to promote the garden).
    • Try to give students hands on experience with actual farmers.

    Evidence of Success

    • Students pretest/post-test scores on gardening were improved.
    • Students were interested and enthusiastic about gardening and volunteered during recess and during the summer to work in the garden.
    • Students contributed to a PA Farm to School recipe booklet on nutritious farm foods.
    • There is now ongoing composting at the Jamestown Area Elementary School.
  • Burgettstown Area School District Creates High Tech School Garden

    Description

    Burgettstown Area School District turned an outdoor courtyard into a garden with raised self-watering beds. The original objective was to grow vegetables that could be used in Foods classes and by 4-H members’ projects. As the project started to take shape more interest was expressed from students who were observing the garden. Five students chose the garden as part of their senior graduation project. Four students are creating augmented reality learning stations for each plant.

    Using Aurasma (a web site for creating augmented reality pages), these seniors have created an interactive activity for each vegetable. When a garden visitor holds an iPad over the picture of the vegetable, on stakes in the garden, they are connected to a picture and recording of what the plant is. They learn nutrition information, planting information and see pictures of the plant when it is ready for harvest. Interest in the garden has grown and elementary teachers would like to be able to use the garden as a learning center not just for growing vegetables but also as an interactive learning lab.

    Contact Information

    Contact Person: Sharon Baillie
    Contact Person’s Title: Family and Consumer Science Teacher
    Email: [email protected]
    Contact Person’s Phone Number: (724) 947-8100

    Category

    • Farm to School

    Objectives

    • To turn an outdoor courtyard into a garden with self-watering beds.
    • Students will grow vegetables that could be used in foods classes and by 4-H members as projects.
    • Special education summer program students will help maintain the garden.
    • To create an “augmented reality” learning station for each plant in the garden.

    Advice

    • The target pictures for the vegetables need to be simple with high contrast.
    • Both younger and older students like to visit the garden and try the app, so make sure the recording is appropriate for all age groups.
    • Keep the message short so visitors can view several plants.

    Evidence of Success

    • The original plan was to have the garden and raised beds. As the project progressed both students and teachers became more interested and contributed new ideas and effort and now the garden is becoming a classroom for both the elementary and high school students.
Back to Top of Page