Nothing says happy and healthy like an image of children gardening, harvesting, and eating carrots, beets, cabbages, cucumbers, etc. The Summer “Out of School” Program students in Fremont, Neb., got to do just that when they helped create an After School Garden at Linden Elementary in Fremont.
With the support of the school district and the Linden administration, and the help of local volunteers, two raised bed gardens were constructed. The students took ownership over the work of caring for the garden. In July, the students set up a produce stand to market their harvest. Word is they are still deciding whether to funnel the money back into the garden or donate it to a worthy local cause. I’ll be honest; I sort of hope they put it back into the garden.
These activities involved significant educational opportunities. Students learned about teamwork and shared decision-making as they negotiated what would be planted where. They learned about plant science, math skills and measurements in the garden, as well as learning math skills while handling money and making change at the produce stand, where each of the students took a half hour “shift” at the table. And they continue to learn about nutrition and healthy food choices.
Personally, I think growing a cabbage is one of the great educational opportunities available to anyone. And I hope children in after school and summer “out of school” programs everywhere get a chance to garden like the kids in Fremont have.
By John Crabtree of the Center for Rural Affairs can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.