Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Teach Kids Where Food Comes From

Zucchini on the left and beans and tomatoes on the right

In April 2012, I started working for a public charter elementary school as the manager. In February 2013, the school moved into a new site with an abandoned vegetable garden. Many parents volunteered to clear up all the weeds and prepared the vegetable beds for spring planting. We also took soil samples for testing to make sure it was safe for planting edibles.  

mint, sunflower, tomato, and other herbs

One of the grandparents spent hours everyday to plant seeds and seedlings of tomatoes, kale, green onion, strawberries, corn, zucchini, beans, peas, cape gooseberries, and various herbs. He even came to the school during spring break to water the plants. In the beginning, some naughty kids would pull out or stump on the seedlings. As a class project, the teachers instructed the kids to make sign of "Look But Don't Touch" signs to place all over the garden.   


We also got a compost bin to turn all the left over lunch items into rich nutrients for the edible plants. Last month the students released many ladybugs in the garden as a natural way to reduce aphids. In 3 short months, we have already harvested zucchini, strawberries, snow peas, green onion, and lots of cilantro (which is the only herb I fear). We have been handing out organic produce to all the staff, students, and parents.

Green onions

The demanding nature of my position in the school has greatly reduced the time I am able to spend on my own garden; however, I am now able to enjoy fresh produce from the school garden. There is barely any shade in the school garden, so everything seems to grow faster and bigger. Of course, the devoted grandpa is extremely knowledgeable in growing vegetables. Since he speaks no English, I often help him with English translation. I feel fortunate that my own experience in growing has helped me in translating and explaining the process of growing edibles to the kids and other parents. Even though I don't have much time to spend in growing, I can still educate others especially the young generation.


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