When these students are given a Greenhouse, they get to connect to their food, the land, and learn how to grow and care for something with their peers. It improves their ability to work in teams.
Forty percent of the children in Wyoming look to the school system for their meals. In 2011, Natrona County had over 4,900 children eligible for free or reduced meals. The school system can become a nutritional tool to help shape healthy eating behaviors for children, preventing many of the complications of nutritional deficiencies, obesity, and chronic disease. As a strategy to prevent chronic diseases and promote wellness, we have developed our school garden program to introduce children of Natrona County to agriculture, nutrition, and healthy lifestyle choices.
Active learning is widely seen as the best way for children to learn. It enhances children's understanding of their environment and the results of their actions. At the same time, active learning builds practical "know-how". While active learning can be realized in many places, a School Garden offers a particularly rich and diverse learning environment.
School Gardens can serve as living classrooms or outdoor laboratories where children can apply academic subjects such as natural sciences, mathematics, languages and even fine arts. Children can practice their social and life skills and learn, hands-on, how to grow healthy food and eat well while developing healthy behaviors around food and nutrition.
Gardens integrated into the school setting have shown student increased preference of vegetables, increased fruit and vegetable consumption, increased children's knowledge about the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables, as well as improved student achievement, life skills, social skills and behavior.
CCGP assists schools with curriculum development, by aligning farm-to-school lesson plans to state curriculum standards; curriculum enrichment; and provide schools farm and garden field trip opportunities. CCGP also facilitates community involvement with school gardens to ensure success and sustainability.
Our School Garden Program began in the fall of 2013 when we joined Mills Elementary School to help develop and expand their garden program and Outdoor Learning Center. Our efforts have included coordinating Star Lane senior capstone students, enhancing curriculum with visits from Colorado Aquaponics, and organizing an after school garden club. Student in the garden club grew and sold wheatgrass to local business , as well as flowers for their annual Mothers' Day Sale.
In 2014, we continued our collaboration with Star Lane and Mills Elementary and have expanded our program to two other schools, Frontier Middle School and Evansville Elementary. In collaboration with Prevention Management Organization of Wyoming and the Wyoming Survey Analysis Center, we are developing evaluation tools to track program performance and effectiveness.
We are also forming a relationship with Natrona County School District to expand our efforts toward development of a comprehensive Farm-to-School program in the Casper area.
Other organization we are collaborating with are Wy Dept of Ag, WY Dept of Education, The Ark and Montessori School, Boys & Girls Club and Lincoln Elementary School, Future Farmers of America, Hein/Bond Architecture, Universal Designs, LLC, Town of Evansville, and Sinclair Oil Corporation.
Come join the movement and help put a Garden in Every School®!