Valley View students learn how their gardens grow
August 7, 2012 12:18PM
The fruits and vegetables grown in the new garden at Jane Addams Middle School in Bolingbrook will be used in school lunches. | Supplied photos
Updated: September 9, 2012 6:01AM
Teaching students proper nutrition is an important component of Valley View School District 365U’s “New View” as evidenced by the launching of VVSD’s first edible school garden at Jane Addams Middle School in Bolingbrook.
“Our overall purpose of the edible garden plan is to get kids eating more fruits and vegetables,” said Meghan Gibbons, VVSD’s Director of Food Services. “This is just one way we can get them excited by learning about them from seed to maturity.”
VVSD’s edible school garden plan was actually scheduled to be launched this fall with R.C. Hill and Tibbott Elementary Schools and Addams serving as pilot sites. But, Gibbons said, Addams PE teacher Cherie Jackson and science teacher Kim King were so eager to get started that the Addams gardens were planted last spring.
Jackson and King attended a workshop staged by Seven Generations Ahead, an Oak Park-based non-profit. The workshop was designed to help teachers “bring the cafeteria into the classroom.” They learned such things as how to build raised gardens and how to find resources such as lumber to build the gardens as well as food safety in the garden and how to integrate the garden into school curriculum.
“They have already integrated this into their science curriculum,” Gibbons said. “…everything from planting the seeds to talking about how plants mature and are harvested.”
Once the fruits and vegetables are harvested, they will be used in the Jane Addams cafeteria.
“I’d love to be able to say we could be self-sustaining and provide all of our fruit and vegetable needs. But five or six raised plots at Jane Addams won’t produce enough vegetables for one day, let alone every day,” Gibbons said. “Our plan is to let the kids grow whatever they want within some parameters. Let’s say they grow and harvest green beans. We’ll cook those green beans and order additional green beans so everyone can have green beans.”
Additional edible school gardens will begin appearing at Tibbott and Hill during the coming school year, funded (like Addams) with internal mini-grants from the VVSD Food Service department.
Gibbons hopes to have gardens in place at every VVSD school within the next four or five years.