From an outside window looking in, the big item missing from many food programs is fresh food. Because of the perishable nature of fresh fruits and vegetables, it is hard to get them in food programs. Enter an elementary school leadership program and the enterprising teacher who knew a garden could provide many lessons for students.
Molly Goosman approached a local dentist who had some additional property around his office about three or four blocks from the elementary school where she teaches. She secured some land and then the work and the teaching began. The plot, now known as Spartan Garden after the school’s mascot, had to be tilled and seeds planted. Worse, the harvest comes during summer vacation. Who would be doing the weeding, the watering – and this July was unbelievably dry here locally, and the harvesting? Enter the school’s leadership club.
Last summer the group painted murals on the walls of the school. This year the group watered and tended the Spartan Garden. The beneficiaries of the garden: the district’s food programs M-EALS (M-E Assisting Local Spartans) and the local population in general as the students have held two sale dates so far.
The M-EALS program provides food to local families in need. An application is available on the school’s web site. Last year, on average, the program served 60 families a week. Over the summer, the program was supplemented, once harvest came, by the fruits and vegetables from the Spartan Garden. On top of that, proceeds from the sales the students held of additional items – zucchini grows plentiful in any garden – helped fund the M-EALS program.
In a world where food production is becoming more big business, students learned to garden and what is provided by such gardening. The students also learn compassion as they are helping others in the community. We cannot underestimate the value of education that occurs outside the classroom.