Students at Kay Bingham Elementary are forming deep connections to Earth. As a new Farm to School program, students were given the opportunity to learn about sustainability and legacies, and write and present pitches to their classmates about what approach they thought would best fit their individual, class, school and community contexts.
As part of the exploratory learning phase of the project, students were introduced to microgreen growing, and two students opted to grow microgreens for their “Genius Hour” passion project.
Through a field study of local restaurant The Noble Pig, students learned about human impacts on the environment, especially in the context of food. Professionals advocated for eating seasonally, locally, and cooking from scratch, and students made their own salad dressings to take home.
Students considered the individual and collective footprints of our waste through a a school-wide waste audit that had them sorting the waste collected in the school over a day, and weighing it to determine where we might divert materials from the landfill. Following this, many students enthusiastically began to compost and connected this practice directly with the importance of having healthy soil in preparation for a school garden which is proposed for Spring 2019.
Enthusiasm for gardening blossomed after a visit to Open Door Group’s Gardengate Horticultural Program. Students were delighted by the plants and their human caretakers and were quick to suggest we might start a school garden. Gardengate supported our students to replant hundreds of tomato plants for sale at our school family barbecue, and students were excited to donate funds back to the nonprofit.
Students were urged to consider the world we would like to leave behind to subsequent generations and consider how we might improve this legacy. By the end of the exploratory phase, students enthusiastically pitched campaigns ranging from a schoolwide composting program to gardens, smoothie sales, and everything in between. They worked at school events to raise fellow students’ and community members’ consciousness about how sustainable practices including growing and consuming local food is not only environmentally favourable, but also has benefits to community building and the economy. Though our program is just beginning, students in the school are developing skills to grow and work with food, to reduce waste at school and home, to build partnerships with the community, and to increase awareness of environmental issues.