School’s Out for Summer!

Summertime might call to mind images of sleepy school hallways and bustling front porches, but our service members are still hard at work connecting kids to real, healthy food in Arkansas. People often ask us, “What happens to school gardens when the students are gone?” This summer we plan to use this blog to answer that question, starting now.
Ally with Fayetteville Public Schools looks forward to partnering with Owl Creek School and the neighboring Boys and Girls Club to help kids get their hands dirty in Owl Creek’s garden on a weekly basis! She also seeks to engage new, local producers in Fayetteville’s local procurement program, and plans to spend some time in school kitchens alongside the district’s fabulous food service workers. In another innovative example of partnership, Ally is developing a produce freezing pilot project with the University of Arkansas’s Food Science Department. We are excited to watch the progress of this effort to make the healthy goodness of summertime harvests available to Fayetteville students year round.
Taking stock of the year thus far, Sara in Yellville says that her school has harvested over 900 pounds of produce from their garden since September 28, 2012! She is excited to leverage her garden’s productivity into educational Garden-to-Table camps where kids will learn about both gardening and cooking. At the end of each of camp, Sara wants her students to feel comfortable in the kitchen, and not afraid to experiment with healthy recipes. Not to forget about her garden’s adult supporters, Sara says community members can also stop by weekly garden workdays to volunteer and take home fresh produce.
At Cloverdale Aerospace Technology Conversion Charter Middle in Little Rock, Jadeplans to engage her most enthusiastic student supporters to volunteer in the garden as part of a rotating schedule of workdays. Jade also plans to focus on outreach, engaging local churches and community groups in the garden’s summertime rhythm. She is also excited to spend some time this summer making garden signs and decorations to make it even more of an inviting space for the upcoming school year.
Starting next week, Sophia will host three, week-long sessions of gardening and cooking camp at Holt Middle School in Fayetteville! Each week her students will have a chance to learn about a different theme: gardening and cooking basics, animals on the farm, and food from different cultures. Her campers will cook and enjoy lunch made with garden produce every day and take home a collection of recipes at the end of the week!
Here’s to a summer of service. And salads. And frittatas. And goats. We’ll keep you posted.
 – by Rachel Spencer