Observation of the eating habits of the students in the cafeteria and in the community led us to the development of this project. There were also only a few choices of healthy foods available in the cafeteria. Obesity among the students also indicated a need for a way to teach good nutrition. Other community groups in the community, like the local garden co-op and family services garden programs for the preschools, also gave us information about the need for sustainable gardens. This project addresses the need for healthier eating habits among the youth and their families. By supplying homegrown fruits and vegetables to the cafeteria and snack stand, and teaching good nutrition, we can improve the health of our community members. This project also teaches gardening methods that can be used by the students and their families to produce food for their own consumption and sale to others. Sustainable gardening skills taught in the schools will help with the economic development being promoted by other members of this community.
How will 4-H help?
In February, all 4 members will team up at the garden site to build up the beds, build shelves for the starters in the greenhouse, and ready the garden for planting. Fence repair and gate building will also be needed. Then seeds will be planted. Class presentations will be made to begin teaching plant biology and basic gardening. In April the members will hold a sale of starters at the greenhouse. The garden will be started and tended, with harvest from May through winter. The student body will be taught by the 4H members the skills needed to work the garden so they can participate during the spring. Posters on nutrition will be made for both the school and the community by the 4H members to demo their project and promote healthy eating habits. They will each participate with their families or other community members during the summer at the farmers' markets.
The students will learn year round gardening techniques, from winterizing the garden to producing composted soil and planting winter vegetables, starting seeds in a greenhouse, planting and tending the garden, and harvesting from spring through early winter. This learning will be incorporated into the class curriculum at each grade level, preschool through 8th. During the summer, some of the families will sustain the garden and participate in local farmers' markets. The students will produce foods for the school menus. The nutritional value of the produce will be taught. The students will create posters and displays to demonstrate healthy eating habits, and make presentations in the classrooms. They will also open a homegrown snack stand.