Students at Lewisboro Elementary School this week picked and shelled beans, peeled squash and chopped celery, carrots and potatoes—among the many steps necessary to prepare Harvest Soup that serves 500. Last week the second graders harvested basil and made homemade pesto.
At Increase Miller Elementary School, each grade has spent time in the school garden. Second grade students made pesto, and third, fourth and fifth graders are preparing soup. Fourth graders are harvesting cucumbers for pickle-making.
Students at Meadow Pond and Katonah Elementary school are also engaged in outdoor learning in their garden and greenhouse through the district's sustainability curriculum, which teaches students about their responsibilities in living within the means of nature and preserving sustainable communities. All elementary students engage in sustainability lessons three times per week.
Holly Hawkes was one of many parent volunteers at LES overseeing children picking vegetables, chopping ingredients and mixing soup. She said she volunteers on this project every year because she loves gardening—and has seen the positive results when kids get their hands dirty.
"It's important for kids to know where their food comes from," said Hawkes, mother to Zach, a second grader at LES. Known to his family as a picky eater, Zach has recently tried a tomato and the homeade pesto made from the school's garden.
"He would not have eaten that at home," she said.
School gardens offer a wealth of year-round educational opportunities to students, said Denise Martabano, who formerly served as the district's sustainability and wellness coach and planted the district's first garden at Meadow Pond.
Not only does the garden teach students about where food comes from, it provides cultural lessons as well, she said.
"We have a section of the garden that is planted according to the Iroquois method, called "Three Sisters," she said. "Corn, beans, and squash grow well together, and this teaches children about a Native American tradition that's a sustainable system."
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