October is National Farm to School Month and at Jones Valley Teaching Farm, students experience Farm to School every day in our Farm Labs located at our partner schools in Birmingham, Alabama.
In our Farm Labs, every season involves pulling out the old and planting the new – with students. Good School Food (GSF) Instructors work with a variety of groups as Farm Lab transitions from summer to fall. Whether it is a few students that make their way to the raised beds during P.E., classes whose teachers are eager to teach outside of the classroom, or students that participate in our after-school Farm Lab Clubs, JVTF’s Farm Labs provide continued access to hands-on food education for Pre-K—8 students.
Planting is the perfect way to pique students’ interests and get them involved. GSF Instructors facilitate the planting process in a variety of ways depending on students’ ages, personalities, and familiarity with gardening. Younger students may “practice” spacing out their seedlings using photos of the plant, before actually digging holes.
Fifth graders who have been gardening for a few years are more autonomous and can mentor their classmates who need to be taught how to hold seedlings without damaging them.
This season at Glen Iris Elementary, Farm Lab’s most successful crops are Swiss chard, lettuce, and turnips, planted by Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st grade students. In the coming weeks, GSF Instructors will facilitate a cooking lesson for each class who planted earlier in the semester. Students will see the crops they planted, learn how to prepare them, and participate in taste tests!
Step 1: plant!
Step 2: harvest!
Step 3: eat!
Though National Farm to School Month ends in a few weeks, our students will keep the mission and knowledge flowing via Farm Labs all year round!
Photos by GSF Instructors: Stella Pfau, Brittany Ragland, and Alyssa Dalos.