RISE Volunteers with the People’s Garden national leadership team at Grandview Elementary School
In 2011, Washington State University won a USDA People’s Garden School Pilot Project grant. The University used the funds to start the “Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth” project, a multi-year research project that engages elementary students in creating edible gardens in schools across the country. School gardens are an effective way to introduce kids to healthy foods and create a passion for agriculture and Washington State is helping lead the way. We’re excited to provide an update on how the project is going. The following post was written by Brad Gaolach, the Project Director for the program.
Guest post by Brad Gaolach, Project Director, Washington State University Extension
Grandview Elementary School in Monsey, NY is one of 50 schools across the U.S. taking part in USDA’s People’s Garden School Pilot Project – “Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth” (HGHY). This research and education project aims to understand the impact of school gardens on fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity, science and math learning, and other outcomes.
Grandview Elementary also enjoys a unique partnership with another research project: “Retirees in Service to the Environment,” or RISE. Created by Cornell’s Institute for Translational Research on Aging, RISE provides opportunities for older adults to become involved in local environmental projects. Research has shown there are greater mental and physical health benefits from environmental volunteering compared to other types of service. As environmental stewards, older adults not only gain from being engaged in civic issues, they also contribute their knowledge and passion to sustaining the environment for future generations. Read more »
(L to R) DC Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C. Rich Holcomb employee, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Brian Lounsbury, and USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Dewell Delgado Paez stand with a bin of just washed bok choy that was grown USDA headquarters Peoples Garden in Washington, D.C. USDA photo.
Every week USDA employee volunteers pick ripe herbs and vegetables from the Headquarters People’s Garden and deliver it to DC Central Kitchen, a local community kitchen. So far this growing season more than 1,000 pounds of fresh food has been donated from the garden. This week’s harvest weighed in at 175 pounds and included 84 pounds of bok choy.
Our volunteers wanted to know what becomes of the food they’ve worked so hard to grow, pick and donate – particularly all that bok choy. That’s why yesterday morning they rolled up their sleeves in the Kitchen to learn how the food donated from the garden each week is made into delicious and nutritious meals. USDA employees worked alongside DCCK cooks to prepare trays of bean burritos (with chopped bok choy inside) and Spanish rice that are being delivered to partner agencies in the Washington metropolitan area, including homeless shelters, rehabilitation clinics, and afterschool programs today. Read more »
As part of the Food Waste Challenge USDA employees are working together to reduce the amount of food waste at our Headquarters office in Washington, DC. Currently 2,400 pounds of food and paper waste is recycled from our cafeteria each week. Our goal is to increase that by 5% to at least 2,520 pounds of waste by the end of Fiscal Year 2014.
Food is the single largest component of municipal solid waste going to landfills, accounting for over 20% by weight. USDA headquarters employees are reducing food waste every time they eat in the cafeteria. Many of the items they use, such as plates, bowls, trays, paper cups, napkins, utensils and clamshells, are compostable. The headquarters cafeteria and hallways are equipped with compost bins that are specially designed for all food waste, including meat and dairy products. The bins are emptied several times each day and the waste is transported to a waste pulping system in the basement. Read more »
In honor of back to school week, USDA offers an array of youth-focused curriculum and learning resources. Photo Courtesy of Arlington Public Schools.
It’s that time of year! Back to school season is upon us and agencies across the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are working to ensure a stronger and healthier future for our nation’s next generation of leaders. That means providing a happy and healthy learning environment for our kids, and helping them grow up with the tools they need to succeed. Read more »
Teachers and students from Adams-Friendship Middle School in Adams, Wisconsin are growing a beautiful People’s Garden in the interior courtyard of their school.
Numerous excellent school garden programs have sprouted up across the country. School gardens often provide food that improves a child’s diet and nutrition, areas for learning, places for pleasure and recreation, as well as a continuing lesson in environmental stewardship and civic pride. But how do they take root?
School gardens are sown with similar considerations but vary based upon its geographic location, funding, grade level involvement, size, type and purpose. For anyone looking to begin a gardening program at a school, here are some tips to consider before you get growing:
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Farmers markets are a perfect venue for teaching children about the food they eat. Initiatives across the country, like this People’s Garden event at the USDA Farmers Market, encourage the development of healthy eating habits at an early age.
“We become what we repeatedly do.” In his Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens Sean Covey used these words to help young students preparing to attend college and join the workforce, but they also apply to how children learn to eat healthy.
Through innovative programs like the Power of Produce (POP) Club, farmers markets across the country are teaching children how to make healthy eating choices. This program, started at the Oregon City Farmers Market, invites children to learn more about some of their favorite foods. Participating in events like planting sunflower seeds or making jam gives the youngsters a chance to better understand where their food comes from. By receiving $2 to spend on fresh produce every time they visit the market to keeping a log of what they buy, the children become immersed in a world of healthy eating. Last year, 1,781 children aged 5 to 12 years old joined, resulting in 5,180 shopping trips. Read more »