Springing into the Garden

Summer is almost here, and that means busy things for our Garden for Every School team. While our work with schools is quickly wrapping up, our on site learning garden is just taking off. Here are some highlights from this past interesting school year and a sneak peek ahead.

What We’ve Been Up To

  • Farm to School Soup: With field trips on hold at the start of the school year while students were learning at home, our partnership with Sakari Farms Field Trips needed to go virtual once again. But what to do with all the carrots we planted last spring for student cafeteria taste tests? We approached Bend-La Pine Nutrition Services and they included them in their from scratch Chicken Noodle Soup, which we promoted as part of National Farm to School Month. Stay tuned for our next Virtual Farm Field trip where we join Spring in her farm once again – this time planting a crop specifically to harvest for another Farm to School soup this October!
  • Lunch Bites: After our successful Farm to School event we were approached by the district to create daily educational flyers to accompany their Grab & Go school lunches available to be picked up by all families while schools were closed. Since then, we have worked hard to create fun, engaging educational content for our daily Lunch Bites, including links to videos, jokes and coloring pages that are about food, nutrition, Oregon grown crops, nature, sustainability and more. These flyers went into every meal that BLPS served, and over 50,000 meals were served each month when schools were still closed over the winter.
  • Grab & Go Kits to Schools: Our Food & Garden Educator worked closely with teachers at Three Rivers School, where she previously served as a FoodCorps Service Member for 2 years, to record video storytime and lessons to accompany kits she packed for students. Even when students were back in school teachers loved this so much they asked her to continue the individual student kits.
  • School Garden Support: When schools were closed last fall (wasn’t that, like, 1.5 years ago?), we worked hard to bring on more financial support to be able to award a record 13 school garden grants, totaling almost $15,000 to help get students outside and in their school gardens during COVID-19. Stay tuned to hear what they were up to this last spring!
  • Technical Assistance: We’ve been available to schools and teachers to support their school garden endeavors, through individual zoom calls, emails, a virtual Garden Educator Network event, and on site technical assistance for irrigation installation to help revive a school garden.
  • Garden Club: On Earth Day we kicked off a small afterschool Garden Club with 11 elementary school kids. With the help of our awesome youth education intern Erika (who has also been creating weekly Lunch Bite flyers with partner group content), we’ve been planting out the garden with their help and care.
  • Happy Hour in the Garden: At the beginning of this month we kicked off the return of Happy Hour in the Garden! Volunteers join us every/any Tuesday from 4-6pm to work in the garden and enjoy a cold bubbly beverage. Thanks to Worthy Garden Club, Deschutes Brewery and Caboost Kombucha for being our summer beverage sponsors on board so far!

What’s Coming Up!

  • Soil Health for School Garden Workshop: We’re collaborating with local Soil & Water Conservation Districts to plan an educator workshop this fall to help revive underutilized school gardens due to 2020 school closures. Stay tuned for more info!
  • FoodCorps Service Member: We’re in the process of reviewing applications of our next FoodCorps service member. We are excited about a new collaboration with OSU Extension Nutrition Education and Redmond School District to bring a FoodCorps service member to Redmond. We love all that we’ve learned from FoodCorps, and the work that they do in Oregon and nationally on behalf of connecting students to healthy food in schools.
  • Summer Programming in the Garden: Since the garden’s inception, we’ve been partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of Bend for summer programming in the garden. This year we hope to reach all their youth through weekly and monthly immersive gardening and food activities through the entire summer.

Our Garden for Every School program supports educators, schools, and organizations to connect youth to nature through food. We do this through working directly with youth, alongside teachers in classrooms, in school gardens, and in cafeterias. We support educators with technical assistance, small grants, resources and garden educator network events. We host an annual FoodCorps service member and we serve as the regional hub for school garden education through the Oregon Farm to School & School Garden Network.

Our work would not be possible without support from grants, foundations, members, and business sponsors. Thank you to our current new and renewing business supporters who make our work possible: COPA Central Oregon Pediatrics Association, St Charles Foundation, Trainyard Tech, Saginaw Sunset, Agricultural Connections, Central Electric Cooperative, and Savory Spice. If you’d like to join this list of supporters we are still seeking business sponsorships.