Sprouts School Garden Programming: Planting the seeds of sustainable agriculture at an early age

Progress report for YENC21-160

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2021: $3,984.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Community Food Initiatives
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Manager:
Molly Gassaway
Community Food Initiatives
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Project Information

Summary:

Community Food Initiatives (CFI), whose mission is to ensure a healthy and equitable food system in Appalachian Ohio,  teaches hands-on gardening curriculum, Sprouts. The curriculum, matched to state standards, teaches gardening, sustainability,  local food systems, and more. If funded, the program would expand to include virtual “field trips” to local farms and “meet the farmer” lessons, allowing students the opportunity to learn from farmers practicing sustainable agriculture to further understanding, interest, and participation  in  sustainable farming practices.  When it is deemed safe, this project would shift to visits from farmers as well as a field trip to a local farm. 

Project Objectives:
  1. Provide students with learning opportunities in sustainable agriculture and the environment through Sprouts curriculum twice/month either in school gardens or through a virtual format.
  2. Introduce students to farming career opportunities and sustainable agriculture practices through school visits from farmers and/or through and “virtual meet the farmer” lessons.
  3. Reinforce sustainable agriculture knowledge, career opportunities, and local food system knowledge through “virtual field trips” and/or a field trip to a local farm. 
  4. Build more connections between healthy bodies and healthy foods through Sprouts curriculum.
  5. Engage students’ creativity through art projects connected to agriculture, the garden, and the environment.

 

Cooperators

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  • Sonya Ferrier (Educator)
  • Abigail Hearne (Educator)

Educational & Outreach Activities

4 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
58 Other educational activities: In-person garden-related educational sessions with students ages 5-8.

Participation Summary:

5 Farmers/ranchers
136 Youth
40 Parents
3 Educators
18 Other adults
Education/outreach description:

Between March and May, we created 4 unique educational videos that were sent home to students and their families using distance learning during COVID.  These videos included virtual "farm tours" as well as taught about susutainable agricultural practices such as composting, vermiculure, and gardening in general.  Additionally, we were able to host in-person Sprouts lessons at the Amesville Elementary school garden in the spring 2021 and successfully completed an end of the year assesment of our programming.

During the summer of 2021, we were able to engage 18 volunteers to assist with school garden maintenace, incentivising them with farmers market gift certificates supported by this SARE Youth Educator Grant.  This ensured the gardens would be in good condition for the students to come back to at the beginning of the next academic year as well as provided food to food-insecure families throughout the community. The summertime was planning time for our team, as well as developing and implementing pre-tests to go out to parents, students, and teachers at the start of the school year.

We were able to be in-person with all 10 first grade classrooms across 2 districts September-Dec 2021. In-person Sprouts classes brought hands-on activities both in school gardens and in the classrooms, introducing important concepts and building enthusiasm for growing food in an environmentally friendly way.  We were able to bring in Ronda Clark, of Blackberry Sage Farm, to the Amesville Elementary where she presented to the students all about her growing of loofahs, seed collection, pollinators, and "what it's like to be a farmer."  Additionally, we gathered footage for the next series of "virtual field trips," to be edited soon and shared with students then released to their families in winter 2022.  Finally, we sent home a mid-year newsletter, including a list of program sponsors, home to 185 families mid-December. 

 

 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.