My STEM Units

Thursday, October 1, 2015

National Farm to School Month

October is usually filled with thoughts of pumpkins, candy, and leaves changing colors.  But, did you know that October is also Farm to School Month?  Farm to School Month is "a time to celebrate the connections that are happening all over the country between schools and local food" (  It doesn't get more local than a school garden.  

Why a School Garden

Classrooms are moving back to integrated studies.  This can be done in the classrooms (reading about science concepts, for example) and outside the classroom (measuring the heights of various corn stalks).  Much research has been been on the subject....of integrated subjects:

  • "Students who participated in garden-based learning programs showed higher test scores in science and increased food knowledge" (edutopia).
  • "Garden-based learning has been linked with higher levels of science achievement" (edutopia).

Our Garden

Last year, students and parents built a STREAM Garden at our school.  STREAM stands for Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, and Math.  Students engineered the benches used for reading and writing in the garden.  Parents built the raised beds; one for each teacher.  Community members donated seedlings and seeds from their personal gardens.  The local farm sent a farmer to work with students weekly and teach them about soil, veggies, and the importance of healthy eating.  Teachers taught/enhanced math lessons in the garden.  Visitors scanned the QR codes on each bed to view videos about what is growing in the beds.  And grow they did.

In it's inaugural year, the STREAM Garden produced The Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash), salsa (tomatoes, peppers, and onions), roots (carrots and radishes), and flowers (sunflowers and snapdragons).  And that's just the beginning.  Students are already planning what they want to plant next spring.  

How We Will Celebrate Farm to School Month

Our school has partnered with Food Corps (a division of Whole Foods Market) to:
  • Support indigenous foods knowledge, growth and re-introduction
  • Prevent hunger and food insecurity
  • Increase local food production, distribution and access
  • Promote healthy nutrition and fitness across the lifespan
To celebrate Farm to School Month, we will have a Garden Party with all 8 Food Corps Teachers across the state!  This isn't your grandma's garden party.  This Garden Party is going to be STEM-tastic!

  • Students will build an additional compost bin out of pallets and stakes.  
  • Students will build an additional raised bed as our ancillary teachers and resource teachers are wanting their own raised beds as well.
  • Students will harvest the above-ground produce (corn, squash, bean, peas, tomatoes, etc.).
  • Students will top off the raised beds with fresh topsoil and fill the new bed with topsoil.
  • Students will paint rocks to inspire hope for the future.
  • Students will go on a garden-themed scavenger hunt.

How You Can Celebrate Farm to School Month

There are as many ways to celebrate as there are farms and schools.  The National Farm to School Month website offers suggestions for those just getting started.  Arizona Department of Education also offers suggestions and resources.  

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