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Farm to School at Yellville-Summit

By Katherine Quinn, Garden Program Specialist, Agriculture Teacher at Yellville-Summit School District

KQuinn

Farm to school at Yellville-Summit School District, a K-12 rural district, is working toward the integration of all aspects necessary for a successful program: garden-based learning, school gardening, and sourcing of local products within school food service. Hands-on experiential learning, especially in a garden setting, elevates the learning environment for students where they are tasked with not only understanding the content, but also demonstrating their knowledge through performance tasks. When this phenomena occurs, students begin the process of learning to "read the world."

In our outdoor learning spaces, which consist of a 22 raised bed demonstration garden, a 30' x 48' high tunnel, an 1,800 sq ft Agriculture Education greenhouse, and a schoolyard habitat/outdoor classroom, teachers have a variety of options for exploring core curricula outside the traditional classroom. Currently over half of our elementary students participate in garden-based learning. Teachers utilize the garden spaces in three distinct ways: as a place for physical activity through the development of gardening skills (adopting beds); as a place to explore Science content in real time through observing, but not overseeing garden beds; or as a project-based learning opportunity (i.e. rabbit chores, worm farm, etc).  These options give teachers flexibility in their level of commitment in the garden. They also provide diverse opportunities for students to practice academic, personal, and social skills.

 

Y S kids around bed  Y S raised beds in greenhouse  Y S greenhouse plants  

Y S mulch

 

As the Garden Program Specialist and Agriculture Teacher, I have found it valuable to provide professional development for fellow teachers in sourcing relevant curricula, gardening techniques, and outdoor classroom management strategies to foster confidence in this atypical learning endeavor. Easy access to resources and lesson material is critical for the success of Garden-Based Learning. Standards-based lessons in Science, Math, Language Arts, History, Health/Nutrition, Art, and Agriculture content areas can all be integrated into a school garden learning experience.

There are a lot of free lesson plans online and great curriculum available for purchase in book format. Content worthy of exploring outdoors:

  • Math - shapes, measurement, addition, subtraction, fractions, data recording/analysis
  • Language Arts - short stories, reflections, procedural writing, early literacy, poems
  • Science - plant and life sciences are always a good fit! Photosynthesis, ecological interactions, structures/functions, weather, water cycle

More resources are available here.

Y S washing carrots     Y S snacks