Fresh Lessons Sprout at City Schools: Urban Districts Grow Gardens to Teach Nutrition, Science, and Even Story Telling

By DeNisco, Alison | District Administration, August 2013 | Go to article overview

Fresh Lessons Sprout at City Schools: Urban Districts Grow Gardens to Teach Nutrition, Science, and Even Story Telling


DeNisco, Alison, District Administration


Nestled between high-rise buildings in New York City, a lush, green garden full of colorful fruits and vegetables grows on the rooftop of the Harlem Children's Zone and Promise Academy Charter School. What was just a few small boxes of dirt five years ago has grown into a 1,000-square-foot garden with 30 types of plants, including tomatoes, squash, eggplant, peppers, and berries. "It's quite amazing when you're out there and see all this growing on top of a building in Harlem," says Harlem Children's Zone executive chef Andrew Benson, who uses the produce in after-school cooking classes.

School gardens are on the rise in urban areas as educators see the academic benefits of adding hands-on learning to traditional curriculum. Teachers can get creative with lessons that integrate the Common Core standards coming to classrooms nationwide. First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign also has inspired schools to build gardens to teach students to eat healthily and be more physically active.

There are no statistics on the number of school gardens nationwide, though the U.S. Department of Agriculture is taking a survey this year. But they appear to be increasing. In the District of Columbia, for example, 90 of the 200 public schools have gardens, compared to about 15 that had them just 10 years ago.

At the Promise Academy, students harvest the garden greens and use them in after-school cooking classes. The garden also is a laboratory for science and math classes, allowing students to test PH levels and measure how plants grow in different types of soil. This past spring, fifth grade math students used vegetables from the garden to study fractions. "The goal is to have the kids understand that fruits and vegetables don't grow on a supermarket shelf we want kids to understand everything from seed to table," says Benson. "But the overall thing for us is the beauty of being out there. It's a place for kids to escape."

Supplementing nutrition

At Edwins Elementary School in the Okaloosa County (Fla.) School District, over 70 percent of the 450 students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. There are students who are homeless and live out of hotel rooms and cars, says Sherri Harkins, a fifth grade science teacher in the district. Considering this and the increasing cost of food, Harkins decided to start a garden. "I felt the need for our student population to literally supplement their dinner table--to plant something and produce the food source," Harkins says.

The school won a Lowe's Toolbox for Education grant of $5,145 last year, and with the help of volunteers, built six raised beds--one for each grade in the K5 school. Not all of the plants were grown in the ground. Students also grew lettuce and flowers in a gutter, and about 10 pounds of potatoes in a straw-lined laundry basket. "I hope that students learn that even if they live in a small apartment, they can grow something in a container to supplement their table," Harkins says.

Though the garden does not produce enough food for the classes to take home, students have been eating healthy foods that aren't part of their diet, she says. "I cooked collard greens in the classroom, and every kid tried it. Out of 60 kids, 57 loved them."

Over the summer, members of a student urban agriculture club and other volunteers have raised pumpkins and gourds, which will be ready when classes resume in the fall. Harkins goes to farmer's markets to give away food and collect donations.

Funding

Nationally, more government grants are available for school gardens, including those from the USDA's Farm to School program. Companies and organizations, including Lowe's, the Whole Kids Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, now offer funds for these projects. Such grants--along with outside donations and volunteer labor--allow many schools to maintain gardens at little to no cost to the district, says Harkins. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Fresh Lessons Sprout at City Schools: Urban Districts Grow Gardens to Teach Nutrition, Science, and Even Story Telling
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.