As part of FoodCorps training, all service members gather in their state teams so we can follow up on what we learned at National Orientation. This state-specific training allows us us to have more hands-on learning and to assist with projects in local schools. One morning this year, Bayyari Elementary School in Springdale, Arkansas had the honor of hosting the State Orientation for FoodCorps Arkansas.
We hosted a work day with the goal of improving the ongoing project of building/establishing the high tunnel (greenhouse) at our school. With the help of all ten FoodCorps Arkansas service members, our state fellow, our State Partner (NCAT), and the students of Bayyari Elementary, we were able to drastically change and improve the area. The workday consisted of five stations: weeding, planting, garden yoga, composting, and nature art. Four classrooms came out and cycled through the stations, which were run by the service members. Service members were able to interact with kids and learn how to host their own work day.
The high tunnel area needed some love after the heat of August, but after the work morning the area looked completely revitalized. The overgrown weeds were pulled, turnips, salad greens, beets and radishes were planted, and broken bed boards were replaced. Between the work stations, students were able to relax and express creativity through the yoga and art stations.
We made a last minute decision to serve a snack to all the students when they completed their station rotation. I remembered that we had cantaloupe melons growing out of the back of our compost bins in our school’s second garden. The melons were quickly harvested and served to the students, and before returning to their classrooms I asked “Instead of throwing away our rinds in the trash, we will put them in the ….” and a first grader shouted out “In the compost bins!!” The time spent at the composting station definitely paid off.
The high tunnel is now an area to bring classrooms out for learning about greenhouses, composting, and planting. Knowing the outdoor classroom was established with the help of students, staff, and FoodCorps service members will be a lasting memory for Bayyari Elementary.