Teachers and staff members at Buchanan Primary School in Haralson County have been working over the past few years to provide their young students with more opportunities to learn about healthy lifestyle choices. The school team decided that the most impactful way to do this was to start a school garden to enhance classroom education using hands-on learning related to food, health and agriculture.
Buchanan received a Georgia Shape School Physical Activity and Nutrition Grant during the 2017-18 school year which assisted with garden expenses. With the funds, teachers, staff members, students and the community were able to transform a plot of land beside the school into a thriving garden and outdoor learning space.
Lori Easterwood, a STEM teacher at Buchanan Primary, spearheaded the transformation of an unused portion of the school property into the school garden. The school was able to secure donations from the community as well, such as Tanner Healthcare, to provide additional materials, like a Kids in the Kitchen Mobile Cooking Cart, to enhance hands-on learning in the classroom.
Teachers and students were encouraged to be involved in the entire process. Students water the plants daily and pull weeds as needed. As the plants produce vegetables or fruits, the students try new foods straight from the garden. Students are also learning about plant life and needs through various lessons taught in class.
"I appreciate and see the value in the hands-on experiences my child is receiving from the opportunity to participate in the school garden,” said Erin Davis, parent of a Kindergarten student. “Not only is my child able to make connections with academics, like science, math and nutrition, but is also being a responsible caretaker and learning teamwork. As a parent, it's exciting to see the enthusiasm your child has for learning through an outdoor classroom and gardening."
Teachers reported that students are also more attentive when lessons are taught outdoors.
“The school garden is a great addition that allows skills like reading and math to be carried into the garden and used in real-life scenarios,” said Susan Roberts, teacher.
Teachers at Buchanan point out that the school garden promotes more student engagement and provides problem-solving opportunities in a real-world environment as the students collaborate on garden activities. After seeing the success of the new garden this past school year, many teachers have stated that they plan to incorporate the garden and outdoor space into their curriculum more this upcoming year.
To learn more about Buchanan Primary visit their website.
To learn more about the researched benefits of farm to school read this article.