Irving Elementary has a small school garden which is used to teach about organic farming, plant and soil science, and to impart the joys of cultivating edible plants. We recently introduced a food cart program through our Health Enhancement classes which allows for food preparation and nutrition lessons. Our food cart is currently being used by a group of 5th graders to produce morning smoothies for other students. This is especially geared towards our kids that are on the National School breakfast program, in order to supplement the low quality foods currently being offered through our school district’s food service. Our goal is to offer nutrition and cooking classes with our food cart, using vegetables produced from our own school garden. We recently held a Stone Soup experience at Thanksgiving, and the kids each brought a vegetable for their class soup. Our principal read the stone soup story to the whole school (300 kids) sitting in a circle. Our dream is to be able to produce next year’s soup with vegetables harvested by the kids from our own garden and locally sourced organic vegetables from our community. This way, the food becomes a powerful element that creates community, belonging, and a sense of purpose in our school.
We currently employ organic gardening practices. We use the garden to teach about pollinators, helpful insects, and basic plant science. Because of the climate we live in, compost is tough to produce. With the introduction of the Bokashi composting method, we will be able to use scraps from our cafeteria and create real, usable compost for our garden, and not have to purchase soil. We have a local Bokashi expert who will be training us on this composting method that is more suited to our climate. The exciting thing about Bokashi is that it is a method that allows for some meat, dairy or egg waste. This means that we could start a compost bin in our cafeteria, and harness the energy of the food waste. It is called “Table to Farm” – a great way to teach children about recycling and reusing waste. Bokashi also allows for the composting of paper waste, so kids can get in on composting in a simple way, by contributing waste to our compost buckets. 49% of our students are on the free and reduced school lunch program. Currently, Bozeman school district runs a food service program that is not motivated to serve healthy fresh food. As long as this is the case, we believe it is in our hands to create an alternative food experience for our students.
If we can get a reasonable harvest from our garden, we look forward to sharing the produce as snacks, and use it to teach the kids how to prepare simple and healthy treats. We look forward to using our fresh delicious magical vegetables to inspire kids to be aware of healthy food choices, and to experience the pleasure of veggies! We desire to use the garden and the food cart during school events, to provide fresh and nutritious food for celebrations, altering our junk food reward systems and raising consciousness around food consumption and food value. Our belief is that quality, home grown food creates a sense of community and belonging for our precious children. This is one way to build a more conscious world.
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