As the weather warms up, kids are beginning to get out and garden even in parts of the country not fortunate enough to have a year-round growing season. Here are hints of a healthy school food environment that you might spot at a FoodCorps school near you.
1. Seeds & seedlings
The first signs of spring awakening are seed coming of packets and getting into the soil. Lindsay Hall’s students in Traverse City, Michigan might not be able to pronounce “embryo” and “cotyledon” yet, but they’re excited by how cool seeds are.
2. First sprouts
Jordyn Kessler’s elementary schoolers in Chicopee, MA aren’t daydreaming when the look out their classroom window, they’re peeking at their sprouts! Windows covered by sprout houses and sills covered by seed cups are sure signs of a healthy school food environment.
3. Garden builds and work days
You can’t just jump right into the school garden when the weather starts to warm up. First things first: garden beds need to be built, signs need to be put up, and weeds need to be pulled. Thankfully, volunteers from the school community can help get the job done fast. In just one garden workday, Mariah Marten-Ray in Paso Robles, CA and volunteers prepped 38 garden beds and covered the space in between with wood chips.
4. Dirty hands
It’s not just volunteers getting their hands dirty. The Garfield Elementary chapter of Sprout Scouts, the trademark FoodCorps after school club, recently took advantage of their first sunny day outdoors to prep the soil and plant spinach seeds. “Despite some hesitation, Scouts were pretty excited to show off their dirty hands,” shares Service Member Nathan Spalding.
5. Square feet
Gardens are a fun tool for young mathematicians. Dasia Harmon’s Atlanta students discussed what a square foot is, how to measure one, and how many seeds belong in each square foot of a garden bed. For all of their hard work crunching numbers, the elementary schoolers will soon be rewarded with carrots, beets, and spinach!
6. First harvests
Even in places with mild winters like Oakland, CA, spring can give plants an extra energizing and productive push. FoodCorps Member Lydia Yamaguchi sums it up nicely: “ITS SPRING AND EVERYTHING IS BUDDING AND FLOWERING AND GROWING IN THE GARDEN AND I LOVE IT.”