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Getting school gardens ready for back to school

NFSN Staff Wednesday, August 15, 2018


By Elizabeth Esparza, Communications Intern


Back to school: a season of crisp new notebooks, freshly sharpened pencils, and often, overgrown, untended school gardens, wilting from the summer heat. Whether you’re trying to get your garden in shape before school starts or want to plan your first few class garden days to get ready for the year ahead, here are some simple reminders to get you growing in the right direction.


Make a plan. It’s hard to plan ahead, but it’s even harder to plan while juggling everything else that the school year brings. Try to put aside a little time to set some goals for your garden this year: What do you want to plant? When? Where? What can you improve upon from years past? What is a dream you have for your garden this year? Don’t feel pressured to stick rigidly to your plan, but put it somewhere you will see it often and use it as an inspiration and a guiding post when the year gets hectic.


Pull some weeds! I have a love/hate relationship with weeds. I have been known to say of my school gardens: “Who cares what the garden looks like, as long as we’re learning!” Having said this, I have to admit that pulling weeds does make a garden look nice and fresh, and there’s something about getting things in order that just feels right at the beginning of the school year. Start or end each time you’re in the garden with a few minutes of rigorous weed pulling and slowly chip away at any summer weeds that may have taken over your garden. Or better yet, if you don’t get to those weeds before the school year starts, implement some weed pulling contests in each garden class or at recess time until your problem is gone (or at least temporarily managed).


Plant something new. Once your weeds are pulled and your gardens are looking fresh, decide which of the remaining plants you want to keep and which are ready to go. Then, use your plan to get something new growing. Depending on where in the country you live, planting at the beginning of the school year may not yield your best harvests, but just like pulling those weeds, getting something planted sets a good intention for the year ahead.


Include your gardens in Back-to-School Night. Back-to-School Nights are a great time to show off your gardens and engage with families. If you work better with a deadline, the pressure of Back-to-School Night might be just the kick you need to get your garden looking spiffy in a timely manner! And if the garden isn’t looking its prettiest by then, that just might help your case in recruiting volunteers.


Relax! Most importantly, remember that your school garden does not have to look perfect when the school year starts (or ever)! Perfect is rarely fun or interesting. Gardens are living things, and as such, they are constantly growing and changing. Even though you may have a long list of garden tasks you want to complete before your garden is “ready” for students, take comfort in knowing that those tasks you feel piling up are fun and interesting learning opportunities.


Looking for more ideas to keep your school garden growing strong? Find garden lesson plans, garden to cafeteria guides, garden assessment tools and more by searching the “School Garden” topic in our Resource Library.

Local Food Sheroes

NFSN Staff Monday, March 26, 2018

By Molly Schintler, Communication Intern

March is Women’s History Month, and to celebrate, I knew that I wanted to write a blog focused on the role of women in food and agriculture. Originally, I envisioned focusing on historical, female leaders whose work laid the foundation for today’s food and agriculture systems. In retrospect, this may have been a bit ambitious. Thankfully, however, I have access to a powerful resource in the many individuals and organizations that make up the National Farm to School Network. When I reached out and asked our partners to share the names of female leaders, past and present, who have played an important role in food and agriculture in the U.S., almost all of those who responded shared the names of women who they know personally.

Many partners mentioned female colleagues, political representatives, and leaders of non-profits as women who have inspired them in their farm to school work. But inspirational women working in food systems existed long before 2018. Throughout history, women have been farmers, researchers, educators, political activists, scholars, marketers, and more in the name of advancing food systems. Who were the original lunch ladies? Who were the first women to champion agriculture education?  Which female farmers planted seeds of change, literal and figurative, in their communities a hundred years ago?

To quote Dolores Huerta, a historical food activist who is still leading change in our food system today: “That's the history of the world. His story is told, her's isn't.” Dolores co-founded the National Farm Workers Association alongside César Chávez in the 1960s. For decades, she has championed farmworkers rights, and yet many people recognize Chávez’s name and not Huerta’s. For me, it is not about recognizing a name for the sake of recognizing a name. It is about knowing a women’s name because you’ve heard her story. It is about saying a women’s name because you are teaching others about her contribution to our food system. Dolores Huerta is one of so many female food leaders who our farm to school work can and should be teaching about. 

If today’s students are taught about local food sheroes past and present, then we can start to tell a more complete, equitable history of our nation’s food system. In the garden, classroom, and cafeteria, let’s educate our students about the:

Activism of Fannie Lou Hamer, who in 1969, founded the Freedom Farm Cooperative in opposition to the inequitable and pervasive sharecropping system of agriculture. She also led early, grassroots organizing in support of Head Start programs.

Leadership of Denise O’Brien, who, when asked about her life’s work as a farmer and founder of the Women Food & Agriculture Network said, “My life has been devoted to raising women’s voices in agriculture. My dream is that the landscape of industrialized agriculture will change as women become the decision makers on their land. To that end I will devote my time on this earth to women, prairie restoration and seed saving.” 

Vision of Chef Ann Cooper, who is devoted to creating a future where being a chef working to feed children fresh, delicious, and nourishing food is no longer considered “renegade.” 

Persistence of Karen Washington, who has lived in New York City all her life, and has spent decades promoting urban farming as a way for all New Yorkers to access to fresh, locally grown food.

Initiative of Chellie Pingree, who has been an advocate in Congress for reforming federal policy to better support the diverse range of American agriculture—including sustainable, organic, and locally focused farming. 

Talent of M.F.K Fisher, who elevated food writing to poetry as a preeminent American food writer in the 20th century.

Community Organizing of Gloria Begay, a Navajo educator and founding Naat’aanii Council member of the Dine’ Food Sovereignty Alliance to restore the traditional food and culture system on the Navajo Nation. 

Trailblazing of Betti Wiggins, who has worked to feed kids healthy food for over 30 years. As the director of food service for the Detroit Public Schools, Betti reformed the school lunch program through championing school gardens and local food. Today, she is still trailblazing for school food as Houston school dictrict’s officer of nutrition services.

Promise of Haile Thomas, who at the age of seventeen, is leading her generation toward a healthier food system. As a health activist and founder/CEO of The HAPPY Organization, Haile has engaged over 15,000 kids in activism since 2010.  Haile will be a keynote speaker at the 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference this April. 


Our network extends our humble thanks to the many women and non-binary identifying people whose work has built and continues our food system toward a more healthy, equitable future.  We may never know all of your names, but we certainly know that our work would never be possible without you.  Thank you for being local food heroes and sheroes! 

Youth empowerment through farm to school

NFSN Staff Friday, December 15, 2017
By Molly Schintler, Communications Intern
At our 8th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in June 2016, LaDonna Redmond gave keynote remarks focused on ending systemic oppression in the food system. In her address, she urged the audience to understand that “every community has the intellect to heal itself.” She explained that the role of individuals working within farm to cafeteria is to use our skillset to uncover the intellect in our communities so that people believe in themselves. What if this approach was seriously considered within farm to school and farm to early care and education work? What would it look like for youth to be leading the movement? 

Many organizations throughout the country focus on youth leadership as a way to further farm to school efforts.  In our most recent Trending Topics: Youth Engagement through Farm to School Webinar, our network highlighted three organizations that put youth empowerment front and center in their work: 

  • YES! Youth Empowered Solutions: Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) is a nonprofit organization that empowers youth, in partnership with adults, to create community change. 
  • Alameda County Office of Education’s Project EAT:  Project Eat works to end health inequities and close the achievement gap in school communities.
  • Vermont FEED’s Jr. Iron Chef VT: This statewide culinary competition challenges teams of middle and high school students to understand how they can effect change in the food system by creating healthy, local dishes that inspire school meal programs.
Mary Beth Louks-Sorrell, Executive Director for YES! highlighted that when youth are not included, “One fourth of the population is being ignored, instead of tapped for their potential to contribute to improving things.” Additionally, Mary Beth offered up a set of best practices to consider before starting work with youth, including asking these questions:

  • What will be the role of youth in your work?
  • What do you hope to achieve from the inclusion of youth
  • Why are you interested in the thoughts, ideas, input, and leadership of youth?
  • What are some ways you might envision the way you and your organization operates or the direction of the work changing once youth are involved? 
Vermont FEED’s School Food Programs Coordinator, Marissa Watson commented on the importance of holding space for kids to participate, stating that, “school food change takes many players: students, food service, parents, and the community.” 
Kate Casale from Alameda County’s Office of Education explained that including youth as leaders within farm to school work is a perfect opportunity to tap into their creativity and innate interest in justice. She also reminds us about the importance of letting youth tell their stories in their own words. 

Jason, a seventeen year old from the program Bronx Youth Force explains, “If you had a problem in the Black community, and you brought in a group of White people to discuss how to solve it, almost nobody would take that panel seriously. In fact, there’d probably be a public outcry. It would be the same for women’s issues or gay issues. But every day, in local arenas all the way to the White House, adults sit around and decide what problems youth have and what youth need, without ever consulting us.” 

Young people are the changes makers of tomorrow, and today. Their ideas, contributions and voices are invaluable to the work of growing more just and equitable food systems, and we should always be conscious to have a place for them at the table. 

Appetite For Change is a North Minneapolis nonprofit organization that uses food as a tool to build health, wealth and social change. "Grow Food" is the culminating project of Appetite For Change's Summer 2016 Youth Employment & Training Program. Urban Youth wanted to share their message - the importance of actively choosing healthy foods - with their peers in a fun, accessible music format. Learn more about Appetite For Change here.

If you are interested in learning more about youth leadership within farm to school and the local food movement, we invited you to join us at the 9th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio in April 2018. An entire conference workshop track is dedicated to “Youth Leadership and Engagement” within the farm to cafeteria movement, and we’d love to have you be part of the conversation! 

Photo Credits (from top to bottom): Vermont FEED and Alameda County Office of Education (middle and bottom). 

Tower Garden Grows More Than Plants

NFSN Staff Monday, October 23, 2017
By Jesse Graytock, Program Manager, The NEA Foundation
Students walking by the window to Sabrina Sullivan Conner’s classroom were perplexed. The large white column that they saw didn’t seem to make any sense. Was it a birdhouse? A piece of a maintenance equipment? Some sort of elaborate game board?

It turns out that it was simply a way to bring farming not just to schools, but to have it in schools. At Strongsville Middle School in Strongsville, Ohio Mrs. Conner, an intervention specialist who works with students with moderate to intensive disabilities, used a $2,000 grant from the NEA Foundation to work with her students to build a tower garden in their classroom. The tower, which pumps water through a central base and then filters it up to twenty different vegetables and herbs, allowed students to grow crops year-round and served as an invaluable hands-on learning tool.

Students were responsible for building the tower, choosing and planting the vegetables and herbs, and maintaining the system, which included pruning, checking water levels, filling the tank, and harvesting. “We wanted to teach healthy living and vocational skills to individuals with autism, Down syndrome, and multiple disabilities,” said Mrs. Conner. “I want my students to have access to opportunities to build skills to help them eventually live independently.”

In addition to acting as a catalyst for experiential learning, the garden also led to a significant change in students’ eating habits. Once the province of chocolate and pretzels, snack periods morphed into sessions with tomatoes, spinach, and thyme. But this transition was not without some hiccups.

“At first they were very confused,” remembers Mrs. Conner. “Most of my students have autism and are very rigid with their diets. Some of them have never really tried fresh vegetables. Many have never given a thought to the growing process – they only knew that vegetables came from the store.”

As time passed, and as students began to realize the fruits (and veggies) of their labor, attitudes changed. One student developed a deep love for basil. Others enjoyed sliced cucumbers with a light dressing. Every week, a group of students would choose a recipe, make a list of ingredients, and cook a meal for each other. Their pride in the garden was palpable. 

After a few months of having the tower in the window, students in the general education population began to ask how they could get involved. Eventually more than 100 students signed up to volunteer to assist their special needs peers with planting and harvesting.

The success of the project can’t be measured simply by students’ new appreciation for vocational skills, healthy living, and life science (although that was clear). For Mrs. Conner, the deep impact comes in the form of watching her students embrace this type of hands-on learning and turn it into a self-directed odyssey. “I’ll catch them smelling the plants and trimming off dead leaves or overgrowth independently and unprompted,” she recalls.

“They inspire me every day.”

Sabrina Sullivan is an intervention specialist at Strongsville Middle School in Strongsville, Ohio. She and thousands of other educators throughout the country have received a grant from the NEA Foundation. To apply for a $2,000 or $5,000 grant for classroom projects or professional development endeavors, visit www.neafoundation.org

Farm to School in the Every Student Succeeds Act

NFSN Staff Wednesday, March 08, 2017
By Ariel Bernstein, Farm to School and Education Fellow

Farm to school is a multifaceted movement with many intersecting components. As stakeholders continue to engage in policy levers for farm to school, a large piece of education legislation, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), comes into the conversation. To help you stay aware of and take advantage of the opportunities this legislation provides, the National Farm to School Network has created a toolkit outlining how farm to school engages with ESSA. As the farm to school movement continues to grow, it is imperative to seek new opportunities where farm to school can impact students and families. ESSA is one of them.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has been one of the most important education policies to shape the way states and districts interact with their most vulnerable students and lowest performing schools. It has provided opportunities for low-income, migrants and native students, as well as outlined Title I funding, data reporting and many forms of enrichment education. In December of 2015, Every Student Succeeds Act was signed into legislation, reauthorizing ESEA and replacing its predecessor, No Child Left Behind (NCLB). ESSA has taken a different approach than NCLB did, shifting more decision making authority to states, opposed to having power concentrated at the federal level. Under the new legislation, State Education Agencies (SEAs) and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) design their own education plans, giving them leverage to choose how federal funding is used. ESSA also has a heavy focus on non-academic factors that contribute to improving education. Aspects such as school climate, health and wellness, and family engagement are being pulled into conversations about student success, creating a more holistic and well-rounded educational environment for students.

These themes provide great potential for farm to school and early care and education (ECE) to interact with this legislation. There are opportunities for the inclusion of farm to school and ECE in the design and implementation of state and local plans for ESSA. Farm to school can improve educational outcomes through methods such as social and emotional learning, health and food education, family and community engagement, and healthier school climate, just to name a few. ESSA’s focus on well rounded education is a great connection point for farm to school, and one that should be taken advantage of by educators, school health professionals, parents advocates and all other farm to school stakeholders.

With education as one of the three core elements of farm to school, it is key that we stay engaged with this legislation and the opportunities it provides. This new toolkit is designed for educators, advocates, parents and farm to school and ECE stakeholders to understand and act upon the opportunities ESSA offers, and to continue to expand the reach of farm to school and ECE in our communities. 


Ready to learn more? Join us on March 21, 3-4pm ET, for a Q&A style webinar about farm to school in ESSA. Register here. Or, contact Ariel Bernstein, National Farm to School Network Farm to School and Education Fellow, at ariel@farmtoschool.org

Reducing student food waste with farm to school in Arkansas

NFSN Staff Thursday, October 27, 2016
By Melissa Terry, MPA Candidate specializing in Food Policy, University of Arkansas Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences, and Emily English, Arkansas State Lead, National Farm to School Network. Terry and English are co-Chairs of the Arkansas Coalition for Obesity Prevention’s Access to Healthy Foods Workgroup


Photos courtesy of Melissa Terry
Each state faces its own food security challenges, but Arkansas’s children find themselves particularly in the crosshairs of childhood obesity and childhood hunger statistics. In 2014, Arkansas was ranked as one of the top 5 states with the highest rates of food-insecure children, and approximately 1 in 5 children are obese. When combined, these two factors can be early indicators of long-term health risks, but also, an opportunity for community leaders to cultivate an environment where the healthy choice is the easy choice. 

Washington Elementary School in Fayetteville, Ark., offers a shining example of how farm to school strategies can help cultivate healthy learning environments and positively impact the health and wellness of children. A garden-based learning program is used to engage all 325 kindergarten through 4th grade students in a variety of experiential academic lessons tied to grade-level benchmark standards – including activities inside classrooms, in the lunchroom, and in the school’s three gardens. 

Classroom lessons include interactive activities like making Rainbow Wraps with kindergarten students, pouring over the latest issue of ChopChop Magazine with 1st graders, learning about pollinators by creating Monarch butterfly nurseries in 2nd grade classrooms, facilitating Math in the Garden lessons with 3rd graders, and exploring USDA Garden Detective curriculum with 4th graders. After school programs include Washington’s robust Gardening Club, which is filled to capacity with 30 students. Additionally, each grade level participates in a farm to school field trip to a local farm.  

“Washington Elementary School’s garden-based initiatives are making a difference in our school and have enriched student learning experiences. The Fayetteville School District’s Farm to School program benefits all students regardless of the demographic background,” says Ms. Ashley McLarty, Washington Elementary Principal. 

Cafeteria lessons include a rotating “School Lunch in the Garden” initiative where one class each week visits the school garden for a lunch tray picnic. Activities also include data collection of Harvest of the Month taste test result, and participation in food waste reduction incentives. According to Washington’s Garden-Based Learning Coordinator, Melissa Terry, “The unsung hero of classrooms and learning environments is the school cafeteria. What the students learn there, whether intentional or incidental, shapes the way they perceive healthy food choices for the rest of their lives.” 

One of the school’s most innovate farm to school initiatives has been piloting a student food plate waste audit in early 2015, in partnership with the Washington County Environmental Affairs Department, the EPA, the USDA, and four other county schools. In this pilot, students engaged in a five day plate waste audit that measured plate waste by categories, including fruit/vegetables, all other food waste, milk waste, other liquid waste and unopened items. 

Results from the audit reflected an opportunity for Washington to make changes to help students reduce their food waste, including the introduction of 8 oz water cups next to the water fountain and the installation of a share table for unopened items, such as milk cartons, fruits and packaged food. Over the course of the 2015-2016 school year students reduced their milk waste by 20% and shared various unopened lunch meal items (e.g. milks, apples, oranges, etc.) as afternoon snacks with other students.   

To further its food waste reduction efforts, the school also launched an innovative “Farm to Store to School” partnership with Natural Grocers. Initiated in 2015, the store donates its surplus produce to the Washington Elementary twice a week, where it is used to make fresh, healthy snacks for students in afterschool programs. Produce picked up during holidays and during the summer break is delivered to the local Salvation Army kitchen, where meals are served twice daily and often include Washington Elementary students and their families. 

Arkansas Farm to School seeks to support schools and communities as they strive to fully engage students in their food system and cultivate emerging leaders empowered to participate in their food choices. And these efforts support the local economy, too. According to the 2015 USDA Farm to School Census, local and regional procurement practices have resulted in $1,255,960 of direct financial impact for Arkansas' food producers. Emily English, National Farm to School Network Arkansas State Lead, says, “As we support schools and communities like Washington Elementary in Fayetteville and share successes and best practices across the state, we build a network of change agents young and old – students, parents, school staff, growers and community members - united in our efforts.”

For more information about Washington Elementary School’s farm to school activities, check out this Prezi featuring different types of student engagement, and this recording of a USDA webinar featuring Washington’s school-based food recovery partnerships.  

Growing youth leaders in Philly

NFSN Staff Tuesday, October 25, 2016
By Aunnalea Grove, Get HYPE Philly! Program Manager, The Food Trust



For the Get HYPE Philly! initiative, 10 nonprofit partners, led by The Food Trust, have come together to empower 1,000 youth leaders to improve the health of their schools and communities with a goal of reaching over 50,000 Philadelphia youth in 100 schools by January 2018. Through urban agriculture, physical fitness, nutrition education and work readiness, Get HYPE Philly! is helping to ensure that Philadelphia’s young people play a key role in building healthier communities and creating a healthier generation. This has created a true movement, with young people at the forefront as agents for healthy change in their communities.

Many of Get HYPE Philly!’s youth leaders are actively involved in improving access to local, fresh foods in their schools and communities. Students involved in the school wellness clubs known as  HYPE (Healthy You. Positive Energy.) have the opportunity to visit local farms, start school gardens and advocate for healthy food sales in their schools. Youth leaders also support farm to school efforts by encouraging their peers to try local foods through marketing and taste tests in their schools. As one student said, “I joined HYPE because I wanted to help my friends make healthy food choices.”  Youth leaders take lessons about healthy eating home to their families, too.  HYPE student Priscilla says she has been able to influence her family with “more water, no soda in my refrigerator, whole wheat bread. My sister is a soda lover, so at first she was upset - but now she loves water.”  After several visits to urban farms and farmers markets, Priscilla wants to continue to see change in her community: “We need at least one farmers market around my community.”



Through Get HYPE Philly! partners The Village of Arts and Humanities, Norris Square Neighborhood Project and Greener Partners, young people are learning about urban agriculture by growing their own fruits and vegetables and using them to teach peers how to cook healthy meals.  Youth leaders run neighborhood farm stands, increasing access to healthy foods in low-income neighborhoods in North Philadelphia.  They also donate the food they grow by running a free, CSA-style delivery program for senior community members and lead a community cooking classes at a local shelter.   
In addition to working within their own schools and neighborhoods, Get HYPE Philly! has a Youth Leadership Council made up of a cohort of students from across the city whose goal is to promote healthy living and the development of sustainably healthy communities.  These students advise on Get HYPE Philly! Collective programming, serve as youth philanthropists and advocate for policy change.  In Get HYPE Philly!’s first year, the Youth Leadership Council chose to focus on urban gardening and healthy food access, and with funding from GSK, had the opportunity to  award 18 local nonprofit organizations with a total of $51,000 in mini grants, many of which went toward supporting other youth-led urban farming programs.  

Get HYPE Philly! brings people and organizations together to reach a common goal, empowering young people to lead healthier lives.  For more information on Get HYPE Philly! or how to get involved, visit www.gethypephilly.org, and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @hypephilly.  

Learning garden grows food, curiosity and creativity

NFSN Staff Wednesday, October 05, 2016
By Ariel Bernstein, Farm to School and Education Fellow
 


The idea to grow a school garden at Shaker Heights High School in Shaker Heights, Ohio, was first sprouted in Stacey Steggert’s special education class. Inspired by a book about a diverse cast of characters cultivating a community garden, her students were the first advocates of turning school grounds into an edible landscape. They began with potted plants in the classroom, which quickly turned into two raised beds in the school’s courtyard. As the first crops grew, so did students’ enthusiasm, and soon their small garden plot began to expand and capture the entire school’s attention. Now in its fourth year, the Audrey Stout Learning Garden is growing more than just plants; it’s nourishing academic engagement, inspiring creativity and sprouting young community leaders. 

Covering all 6,400 square feet of the high school’s center courtyard, the Audrey Stout Learning Garden is designed with multidisciplinary education in mind. The space is divided into four geographically-inspired sections: Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, each growing crops, herbs and flowers that can be found on these continents. In the Europe section, the German class grows cabbage and learns to make sauerkraut. On the Americas side, there’s a salsa garden with tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos for Spanish classes to explore cultural flavors. The African garden includes a patch of Arundo Donax, better known as African Reed Cane, that students harvest and transform into handmade paper. Plum trees, shiitake mushrooms and Chinese red noodle beans grow in the Asia garden. And to top it off, nine espaliered apple and pear trees grow in the garden, adding to the uniqueness of this beautiful and lush courtyard.

Throughout the space, the creative handiwork of art students can be seen in handcrafted tile benches and innovative wire sculptures. A Shakespeare class made connections to the garden by planting an “Ophelia garden” with rosemary, columbine, and daisies after reading Shakespeare's Hamlet.  Math classes use the garden to practice calculating area and put algebraic equations into real-life application. The SEEDS (Service, Environmental Education, Diversity, Sustainability) student club turns garden produce into canned goods that have won multiple ribbons at the country fair. And all students get to benefit from the garden’s fresh, healthy harvests, which occasionally are featured in school meals. 
The garden’s connection to healthy eating is one that’s especially important to Paula Damm, Shaker Heights High School nurse and co-leader of the Audrey Stout Learning Garden. “Health promotion is key in my role as school nurse, and promoting the garden promotes health,” she says. She’s seen first hand that when  students are excited about growing fresh food, they’re excited to eat it. “One students was particularly excited about the peas, which she helped grow in the spring. While looking at the full grown pea pods on the trellis, she said to me, ‘I feel like these are my peas! I feel like I created them!’ And she did! She continued to talk about her love for those peas well after they were harvested.” 
The Shaker Heights community is extremely diverse, and there are many areas in the city where healthy food access is a challenge. As students learn to grow food, they become educated about the role urban gardening can have in building healthy communities, and how young people can make a difference in the wider food system. Steggert and Damm tell the story of one student who, after participating in a vocational training program at a grocery store, was especially struck by the differences in produce selections between stores in wealthier and lower income communities. “Why don’t they think poor people like nice food?” he reflected. His gardening experiences at Shaker Heights High gave him the tools to make connections and observations about the food system, and has empowered him to become an advocate for healthy food in his own community. 
In the Audrey Stout Learning Garden, learning has no limits. This garden space provides students with unparalleled opportunities to experiment, to take risks, to make unexpected connections and to grow as leaders. As Steggert and Damm say, “It’s a learning garden!” There are no mistakes or failures, only opportunities to try new approaches and, well, learn! From planting to growing, from to eating to leading, the lessons taught in this school garden are more than just academic. These students are being shaped into well-rounded, reflective, and goal-oriented people who, throughout the process, are eating healthy!


Learn more about the Audrey Stout Learning Garden on Facebook and Tumblr
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