Collier Elementary School, located at 3900 North Bear Canyon Road in Tucson, recently was selected to receive one of two Learning Gardens—valued at $2,500—in Arizona from the Captain Planet Foundation, courtesy of Dole, Bashas’ and Food City. The Learning Garden comes with lesson kits, supplies to establish a schoolyard garden, a fully equipped garden cooking cart and strategies for garden maintenance. The program provides a context for multidisciplinary learning, ranging from nutrition and science to social studies, math and language arts. Students benefit by expanding their palates, taste-testing healthy foods and learning more about where food comes from, the companies say.
“We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to introduce an experiential Learning Garden into our K-5 curriculum,” said Lisa Langford, principal of Collier Elementary School. “This generous donation means our students will not only have the opportunity to learn how to plant and harvest a garden, but they will also learn about healthy eating and how produce ultimately ends up on supermarket shelves.”
Elementary students, their teachers and a host of local volunteers will work side-by-side to install the garden. The school’s fifth-graders will lay the groundwork by assembling planting boxes and filling them with soil. Fourth-graders and fifth-graders will plant seeds and seedlings. Kindergarteners through third-graders will decorate a large stake (in the shape of a snail) for their classroom garden. They also will be able to plant their own mini herb garden to take home. Each take-home garden will have different herb seeds and a small clay snail that resembles the larger one they are decorating as a class.
As the students take care of the garden, they will be learning valuable in-classroom lessons that foster inquiry-driven, project-based learning across all disciplines, the companies add.
“We take our mission to teach children about the benefits of fruits and vegetables very seriously, which is why we’re granting learning gardens to schools like Collier Elementary in Tucson,” said Larry White, VP of sales for Dole Packaged Foods. “By partnering with Captain Planet Foundation and Bashas’ Family of Stores to install learning gardens like this one, we’re able to help students learn about and develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime.”
According to Captain Planet Foundation, anything can be taught in the context of a garden, especially when it’s paired with learning experiences that bolster students’ understanding of natural systems, food origins, and healthy eating.
“Captain Planet Foundation is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of environmental stewards, including students at Collier Elementary School, to ensure that they have an even better understanding of the natural world that we all live in,” said Leesa Carter, executive director of Captain Planet Foundation.
In addition to learning how to take care of their garden to produce fruits and vegetables and prepare a meal with their fresh-from-the-garden foods, students will gain an understanding and appreciation for what it takes to grow the different varieties of produce available at their local supermarket.
“It’s important that we excite the next generation about fresh foods and the importance of healthy eating,” said Ashley Shick, director of communications and public affairs for Bashas’ Family of Stores. “That’s why we are so thrilled to help deliver the first learning garden to Arizona. Our hope is that this garden will introduce students to some new fruits and vegetables that they haven’t yet enjoyed.”
Bashas’ Supermarkets is an Arizona-based, family-owned grocer that operates Food City, AJ’s Fine Foods, Eddie’s Country Store and both Bashas’ and Bashas’ Dine supermarkets. With more than 100 grocery stores, it is one of the largest employers in the state. Since the company’s inception in 1932, Bashas’ has given back more than $100 million to the communities it serves.
Based on the animated series Captain Planet and the Planeteers, Captain Planet Foundation was created in 1991 by media mogul Ted Turner and producer Barbara Pyle. Since then, the Captain Planet Foundation has worked to “ensure that the next generation of business leaders and policymakers are environmentally literate citizens who leverage technology and information to manage and protect the air, land and water upon which all life depends.” Captain Planet Foundation has funded more than 2,000 hands-on environmental education projects with schools and nonprofits that serve children. More than 1.2 million children have directly participated in and benefited from these educational projects.