DeKALB – Students in DeKalb School District’s Summer Academy were able to get out of the classroom and into a garden Thursday to participate in the Project Learning Garden program.
Schnuck Markets and Dole Packaged Foods partnered with Captain Planet Foundation to donate a Project Learning Garden at Founders Elementary School in DeKalb.
The Project Learning Garden program provides a context for multidisciplinary learning, ranging from nutrition and science to social studies, math and language arts. Students benefit from the garden by expanding their palates, taste-testing healthy foods and learning about food origins.
Lamie Cedillo, the principal of the Summer Academy, said that the garden “allows students the community to have the opportunity to learn the benefits of growing and harvesting their own food.”
On Thursday, third and fourth grade students in the Summer Academy were able to plant and harvest herbs and vegetables and work together to create a tasty summer salad. The students enjoyed making – and eating – the salad. Some of them even returned for second and third helpings.
During the program, Leesa Carter, president and CEO of Captain Planet Foundation, and Marty Ordman, marketing and communications director of Dole Packaged Foods, taught the students how to garden, including how to plant, grow and harvest, and the importance of pollinators, such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
“Often, students think food just comes from the grocery store,” Ordman said. “The program helps kids learn about good nutrition and all-around health. The hands-on program gives them skills to take home with them, so they can maybe start their own gardens with their families. It also increases their willingness to try new foods, like broccoli and radishes. If they try it and they like it, they could expand their palate.”
Billy Hueramo, the school district’s elementary curriculum coordinator, also attended the program.
“I like that it’s a hands-on experience where kids learn through real life scenarios,” he said. “They’re not just reading about gardening and cooking, they’re implementing those skills.”
Hueramo said that the program was also a great way for students to “get outside and get fresh air.”
“After a year of being cooped up inside due to COVID, programs like this are a great way to get the kids outside,” he said. “It’s more than learning about gardening, it’s about science, health, nutrition and positive skills the students will now have for a lifetime.”
Kid-approved Summer Salad Recipe
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Dole pineapple juice
4 tbs. red wine vinegar
Add the dressing to leafy greens and top with Dole Mandarin oranges