A non profit organization is teaming up with school districts to help gardens in schools become outdoor classrooms for elementary students.
The goal of Oklahoma City Harvest is to encourage elementary students to create outdoor classrooms where they learn gardening and the value of healthy nutrition, while creating an environment for study and reading.
One of the co founders of OKC Harvest, Larry Heyman, says that the feedback from participating schools has been overwhelmingly positive. “The kids are really excited about it,” he said. “The idea is that it’s not only a feature for students, it’s also a feature for their parents and people in the surrounding community.”
One of the schools involved in the partnership is Tulakes Elementary in the Putnam City School District. There, fifth graders were proudly pointing out the different crops and the careful tending of the garden beds. Leafy tops of kale, butter lettuce, and radishes lined the rows. Students said many of these vegetables were foods that they had never tried before, but were encouraged to eat them now.
Jazzlyn Fresquez and Trinity Streeter were among the fifth graders tending the garden. “The radishes were spicy at first, but you get used to them,” Jazzlyn said. Trinity said she had not tried butter lettuce before, but enjoyed making Asian chicken wraps with it. Both girls said that butter lettuce was their favorite garden food. They also said they enjoy tasting new things from the garden.
Fifth grade students are not known for wanting to try new vegetables. But the adults involved with the program have found that kids are proud of their accomplishments in gardening, and are more likely to try the foods they grow, with enthusiasm.
Parents are also impressed favorably with the results. At a recent parent conference night, students harvested greens, and bagged them as take home favors for parents who were in attendance.