Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, with support from the School Garden Support Organization Network, will host the first, virtual garden-based learning event with lessons led by students from school garden sites from coast to coast from 10-11 a.m. PT on April 27. The event furthers the Sprouts Healthy Community Foundation’s commitment to advancing children’s nutrition education and is in honor of National Garden Month, which was nationally declared by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2015.
“It is essential that we educate our children about establishing good nutrition and healthy eating habits early in life to lead to better, positive health outcomes later in life,” said Vilsack. “We need to expand and improve our outreach and education with a much greater focus on nutrition security, giving children and families tools to make healthy food choices because the food we eat affects our health throughout our lives. One of the most effective education tools we have with kids is gardens. When a child tastes food grown in a garden for the first time, it opens her eyes to new choices and can begin a nutrition journey that lasts a lifetime.”
The 45-minute virtual event, titled Growing School Gardens: Seeding a Healthy Future for Our Youth, will be taught through student voices and viewed by an estimated 500 elementary schools. Lessons will capture how school gardens are advancing nutrition and environmental literacy, STEM education and social-emotional wellness.
“This event provides educators with classroom content and will increase awareness to the true value of garden-based education,” said John Fisher, co-founder of SGSO. “Teachers know it, and research shows it. School gardens increase children’s sense of responsibility to care for the environment; academic achievement and engagement; self-confidence and teamwork.”
Livestream activities kick off in Hawaii and culminate in Washington, D.C. Topics and locations include:
- Cultural Connections Between Plants, People, Food and Land hosted by Kokua Foundation at Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School in Waimea, Hawaii;
- What a School Garden Means to Students hosted by Life Lab at Radcliff Elementary in Watsonville, California;
- Environmental Design in the School Garden hosted by University of Arizona’s Community & School Garden Program at Manzo Elementary in Tucson, Arizona;
- Unity Through Community hosted by Big Green at Lake Middle School in Denver, Colorado;
- Research Shows School Gardens Benefits hosted by the Department of Nutritional Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin and TX Sprouts Program in Austin, Texas;
- Community and Youth Development hosted by Jones Valley Teaching Farm at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Alabama; and
- We Are Scientists in the Garden hosted by Out Teach at Whittier Elementary in Washington, D.C.
The event comes as many schools reopen for in-person classes. School gardens provide hubs for socially distanced learning, and places to help students reduce stress and anxiety.
“Throughout the pandemic, we all witnessed the enormous pressures put on students and educators, and school gardens helped to alleviate some of those pressures when leveraged appropriately. Additionally, school and community gardens can oftentimes be a source for emergency food assistance for communities experiencing food insecurity,” said Lyndsey Waugh, Sprouts Healthy Communities executive director and SGSO chair member. “Now is the time to recognize how we support our nation’s youth with the resources to rebound and thrive, and we believe wholeheartedly that school gardens can play a tremendous role in this effort.”
For more information, visit growingschoolgardens.org, or follow #growingschoolgardens on social media.
Sprouts Farmers Market is based in Phoenix, Arizona.