Spring is here and school gardens are flourishing. Prescott Farmers Market’s FoodCorps service member, Samantha Turner has helped students plant gardens at Mile High Middle School and Washington and Miller Valley Elementary Schools. FoodCorps is a nationwide non-profit service organization that places leaders in communities across the country to connect kids to healthy food through school garden projects, cooking and nutrition lessons and bringing local farm fresh produce to the cafeteria line. Through her service Sam helps PFM meet an important piece of its mission: educating the community about the importance of local agriculture.
Samantha hosts a weekly after-school garden club at Miller Valley Elementary. In garden club kids get hands-on experience working with plants. For one activity students chose from a variety of leafy greens, herbs, flowers and root vegetables seeds and planted their own small plot inside the garden beds. Students knelt on the ground beside their plot to draw out four rows with their fingers and sprinkle one kind of seed in each row. One student remarked, “When we cover our seeds up it’s like were tucking them in!” Every week garden club students eagerly run to their garden plots to carefully observe sprouted seeds. In early May they will harvest their vegetables for a salad at their end-of-year celebration.
At Washington Elementary, Samantha and community partners Katie McDaniel and Kelley Villa with Yavapai County Community Health Services, are teaching a series of nutrition, garden and food education to thirty excited first graders. Students learned that seeds are like babies and we have treat them with care, so each student delicately sprinkled the baby seeds into their rows and gently covered them up with soil. Throughout April and May students will patiently watch their rows grow into full carrot, radish, lettuce and spinach plants and will finally be able to enjoy the greens the last week of school.
At Mile High Middle School both after-school garden club and the alternative learning placement services class have taken ownership of their school garden. These students have also learned how to prepare recipes with garden produce, are slowly trying the vegetables they’ve grown and are realizing the nutritional value of the vegetables on their plates. This month the alternative learning placement students have watched their seeds grow into plants and are eager to finally take a bite from the rows of beets, radishes, spinach and lettuce they planted in March. Last week, the after-school garden club proudly harvested their rows of carrots, beets, radishes, herbs and leafy greens and sold $135 worth of school garden produce at the Prescott Farmers Market!
Through these partnerships PFM supports school gardens projects, nutrition education, cooking lessons and sourcing local produce for cafeteria taste tests. If you’d like to know more about what we’re doing outside of the market check out the education page.