The Academic Impact of School Gardens

Harvesting flowers Mieko PhotographyMaui Teachers’ Perspectives

It’s no secret that students, parents, and teachers love our school gardens! During garden visits, students spend hours discovering the wonder of growing their own food; the gardens bring beauty to our school campuses; students, families and members of the community enjoy the fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs they produce. As an organization, we take time at the end of each school year to reflect on how the gardens are fulfilling our goals of providing students with outdoor learning experiences that connect them to their food sources, inspire better nutrition choices, improve health, and teach them how to be better stewards of the land.

As we strive to grow, improve, and to “turnip the beet” in our programs, Grow Some Good conducts an annual Teacher Survey. We wanted to share with you some highlights from the 2015-16 school year.

Survey Results – School Gardens have a Positive Impact

According to the survey, a majority of teachers surveyed report that school gardens have a positive impact in students’ academic achievements in all core curriculum areas, and particularly in science, health, language arts and Hawaiian studies.

We know from more than eight years of managing these programs that hands-on, interactive lessons in the gardens improve retention and help reinforce classroom learning. Maui teachers surveyed agree:

  • 96 percent of teachers’ responses report that garden lessons were very or extremely beneficial in supporting the core curriculum area of science.
  • 72 percent said school gardens are very or extremely beneficial in language arts
  • 66 percent of teachers said school garden programs are very or extremely beneficial in supporting Hawaiian Studies.
  • Nearly all teachers, 97 percent, said school gardens are very or extremely beneficial in in supporting health and nutrition standards.

Teachers were also asked to indicate what attributes they have observed in their students who participate in school gardens:

  • 94 percent said they saw an increase in environmental awareness.
  • 73 percent said they noticed improvements in health and nutrition.
  • 44 percent also noted improved social skills and behaviors.
  • 48 percent witnessed an increase in community spirit and interest.

“We Love Mondays!”
Girls with Kale Wailuku El

Teachers shared their thoughts on the impact school gardens have on their students.

Leslie Farthing, sixth-grade Social Studies teacher at Lahaina Intermediate School, said, “This program has been incredible for my students. It is a great introduction to working in a garden. For most students, it is their first time working with plants. They really enjoy it and take pride in their work. [The garden coordinator] always ties it to what we are learning which is very helpful. I did not grow up gardening so as an educator I love the experience as well.”

Teachers also commented:

“The garden is a wonderful addition to our school and the kids love it! Thank you!!”

“My students are so excited to be a part of this program! They are planting gardens of their own and are so inspired by [the garden coordinator].”

“The garden brings out interests and curiosity that I have not seen in class.”

“We are very thankful to have the opportunity to teach our students gardening skills.  This is a life-long skill and our children are learning about how to be self-sustaining.”

girls hanging ipu to dry“We truly enjoy our garden time.  The students learn a lot and it is important to continue to educate our students about healthy eating habits. [The garden coordinator] does an exceptional job sharing her garden knowledge and skills with our students.”

“I truly appreciate the knowledge shared with our students.  This year, [the garden coordinator] had excellent lessons aligned to the Common Core State Standards.  Very impressive.”

“I enjoy watching my students investigating and taking notes.  It shows that they are really interested in the garden.”

“We love Mondays. We get to go to the garden!”

 

For more details, you may review the complete survey results here: Grow Some Good 2016 Teacher Survey Data

Plant a Tree of Life – Grow ‘Ulu (breadfruit)

Grow Some Good, in partnership with the Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hana, and the Plant a Tree of Life – Grow ‘Ulu Project, is providing ‘ulu tree (breadfruit) saplings to the Maui community this month in recognition of statewide and global efforts to increase the number of ‘ulu trees growing in our communities.

photo credit: Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden
Photo Credit: Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden

These trees are about 2.5 feet tall in gallon pots and are ready to find new, suitable homes. This popular variety of ‘ulu originated in Samoa and Tonga and has been grown in Hawaii for decades. These Ma’afala (variety) trees are fast growing, more compact shape, highly productive trees that can begin bearing fruit in as little a 2½ to 3 years. It is still a large tree though, and should be planted at least 30 feet from the nearest structure or at least 20-25 feet from other large trees or tree canopies.

ulu tree & fruit
Photo Credit: Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden

Trees are available for pickup at Grow Some Good Work & Learn Days across Maui over the next month. To RESERVE your ‘ulu tree contact Nio Kindla below. Keep in touch on our Facebook page  or subscribe to our newsletter for latest dates and locations of these school garden workdays.

Only one ‘ulu tree per household or location will be given away at this time. Please let us know in your email if you would like additional trees, how many, and how multiple trees at your location will support community food resilience. Additional trees will be distributed late October, as available.

First ‘ulu distribution date is this coming Saturday, September 26th at the Wailuku Elementary School Work & Learn Day from 8:30AM-11:30AM. A tree is yours in return for an hour or two of your kōkua for this workday. The trees are free of charge but if you can support local propagation of more ‘ulu trees by Grow Some Good, please consider a $5 or $10 donation.

ulu
Photo Credit: Breadfruit Institute, National Tropical Botanical Garden

The next distribution will be held at Kihei Elementary school’s regular second Saturday Work & Learn Day on October 10th.

For more information on the trees and this ‘ulu project see Plant a Tree of Life – Grow ‘Ulu.

There are multiple articles and images that can help in understanding the proper planting, care and maintenance of these trees. A great resource provided by National Tropical Botanical Garden!

SIGN UP BELOW to get your 'Ulu Tree or ask additional questions.

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Good Things Growing at Kamali’i Elementary School

kamaliiKamali’i Elementary School garden program provides nutrition education and curriculum support for all grade levels. Theme gardens, such as the Pizza Garden, Green Smoothie, Pioneer Garden and Native Hawaiian Gardens match learning objectives for each grade and connect the relationship between fresh garden fruits and vegetables to students’ favorite foods. Year-end harvest parties feature local chefs working with students to prepare kid-friendly recipes with garden-grown ingredients.

To learn more about getting involved in this program, visit http://growsomegood.org/volunteer/

Juicing Kō for Lilikoi Lemonade!

IMG_8101Today we harvested two varieties of heirloom Kō sugar cane, talked story about canoe plants brought by the earliest Hawaiian settlers, and used a hand crank cane juicer to make lilikoi lemonade with K-5 grade students during Maui Family YMCA A+ after school program – part of a monthly healthy garden-based recipe series.

Did you know…? Raw cane juice contains only about fifteen percent total sugar content, all of which is in a raw unrefined form. The rest of the juice consists of water brimming with an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Freshly extracted cane juice – like other fresh juices – contain live enzymes and nutrients that are easily absorbed by the body for quick nourishment.IMG_8103

Special thanks to Andy from Maui Cane Juice for helping us make this a special day for our keiki! Look for Maui Cane Juice every Saturday morning at the Maui Swap Meet and Kihei Town 4th Fridays. So ono!

For more pictures, visit Grow Some Good on Facebook.

Wailuku Elementary Gardeners Share Cinco de Mayo Recipes

Mas de 100 estudiantes participating in tutoring and enrichment programs at Wailuku Elementary School celebrated Cinco de Mayo by harvesting produce from their Salsa & Green Smoothie Gardens and sharing recipes during an after-school fiesta! Wailuku Elementary School garden program is supported through a partnership between 21st Century Learning Centers Baldwin Complex and Grow Some Good. The Harvest Fiesta included jr. gardeners preparing papaya and pineapple salsa, guacamole and green smoothies, using school garden-grown ingredients.wailuku fest3

Students also learned about the historical significance of the holiday when Mexico defeated the French during a battle where they were outnumbered by double the soldiers, then related it to the tenacity of their healthy plants when attacked by pests in the garden. Green smoothies were served up with a review of what makes plants green, covering curriculum such as photosynthesis, chlorophyll and the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.
wailuku elementary school cinco de mayo maui hawaii school garden
Mariachi music underscored the fiesta finale as blindfolded contestants took turns whacking at a piñata filled with fruit juice-sweetened treats, almonds and other surprises.

Special thanks to Tim Ewing and ohana at Hawaiian Moons Natural Foods for donating extra local produce, organic corn chips and apple juice to the Harvest Feista! tim ewing hawaiian moons natural foods kihei maui hawaii

Our Salsa Party RecipesGarden Salsa (Serves about 50-100 jr. gardeners and volunteers. Here are some ideas on integrating each step into hands-on learning, so students are the chefs!)

  • 1 – fresh papaya (students spoon out seeds to clean and dry for planting new starts)
  • 1 fresh chopped pineapple (save top for new planting – here’s how to grow in a container at home or school)
  • 1.5 quarts – a medium sized bowl of fresh picked tomatoes (have students chop tomatoes to measure quarts or compare to conversions in ounces or pounds with scale)
  • 4-6 chopped or sliced carrots (students chop carrots with plastic serrated knives or widdle a whole carrot to thin slices with a veggie peeler.
  • 1/2 Hawaiian hot pepper or Anaheim pepper (students with non-latex gloves slice with plastic serrated knife and remove seeds.) You may choose to leave this ingredient out with younger students who have sensitive taste buds.
  • 1 clove garlic (students peel garlic with gloves or use garlic press) Again, you may also choose to leave this ingredient out with younger students or roast the garlic in advance to bring out sweeter flavors.
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt (salt to taste)
  • 1 cup or approx 250 ml of fresh squeezed Myer lemon juice (students slice lemons in half, hand squeeze and compare milliliters to cups when measuring)
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped (students can use onion chopper)
  • 2 green onions finely chopped (the whole onion – green tops and white onions. Students can tear onion tops with gloves in tiny pieces or use scissors)
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro (how much does it weigh in ounces? Make predictions, check weight to compare with predictions)

Directions: Combine  first 8 ingredients in equal parts (half at a time) in a food processor or blender, then pulse until fine or chunky consistency. Add finely chopped green onions and cilantro.

Guacamole

  • 6 ripe avocados mashed in a bowl with potato masher, then add 2 cups salsa (recipe above), a little extra sea salt to taste.

Have several students taste test, make any adjustments to the recipe based on your jr. chefs’ recommendations. Then, serve with organic, non-GMO corn chips or substitute corn chips for black bean chips or another healthy crunchy alternative from the local health food store.  You can even wrap all the ingredients with sliced veggies in a kale leaf for a garden veggie burrito.  We’ve found that as long as you call it a burrito – they’ll at least try it and most likely love it!

Check out our green smoothie recipe on the Grow Some Good website.  Aloha & Salud Amigos!

Food Economics: Where in the World… and Why?

Food EconomicsThe harvest stage of a school garden provides an ideal setting to observe interdependence of producers and consumers: harvesting food in the garden vs. buying produce in a store or a restaurant.  This is when Social Studies benchmarks can be supported in the garden and students can gain an understanding of how consumer choices affect food sustainability on Maui.

Discussion Points

Limited Resources and Choice: Explain scarcity and effects on daily life. Discuss water scarcity in Hawaii and how it affects farmers / gardeners. What happens when there is less rainfall on the island? How does it affect farmers? What happens if local farmers stop producing a fruit or vegetable? How does it affect the price? What happens when consumers buy imported produce instead of local produce? How does it affect a local farmer’s ability to grow more?

Role of Government: Discuss responsibility of government to provide goods and services – ie. In supplying water to areas where needed.

Economic Interdependence / Role and Function of Markets:  How do people benefit from trade (exchange of goods and services)? Discuss relationships between buyers (consumers) and sellers (producers) and how they depend upon each other. Why do farmers need customers? Why do customers need farmers?

ActivitiesFood Economics

  • Display imported produce: a tomato (from California), banana (from Ecuador), eggplant (from Philippines), cabbage (from Mexico) and ask the students to find where these items are growing in the garden. Have students search for “local” produce bring a sample of each back to circle (or a leaf from the plant if fruit or vegetable is not ready to harvest).
  • Locate origin of each imported produce item on the globe and estimate how many miles / amount of time each one traveled before being sold to the consumer here on Hawaii.
  • Discuss all the human resources involved in delivering that food (farmers, truckers, shippers, store clerks, etc.). Which ones require gas/fuel to do their jobs? Students act out each stage of delivery and exchange.
  • Compare the imported food chain to how many steps / people / how much energy or fuel it took to deliver food from the garden to the table.
  • Ask students if they know someone who grows food on Maui. Discuss the concept of local vs. imported. What is local? Are you local? Why?
  1. If you bought a local banana from a store that sells your uncle’s / auntie’s bananas, who would get the money?
  2. If you bought an imported banana from Ecuador, who would get the money?
  3. If a local farmer gets money for their bananas, can they grow more local bananas? Why?
  4. How can you tell where something comes from when shopping in a store? Show examples of food labels that list the origin of produce.

Final Observations / Questions
Why do stores in your neighborhood import food from other countries? Not enough supply? Not enough demand? Do imported bananas taste better?

  • Taste testing: Sample and compare slices of a banana from Ecuador or other country to an apple banana from Maui. Samples are divided on two plates with no identification on origin.
  1. Which tastes better? Then, reveal which bananas are imported vs. local.
  2. How does supply and demand affect a store owner’s decision to carry local vs. imported bananas?
  3. Which consumer choice supports farmers who live on Maui?
  4. Which banana would you choose? Why?

For more ideas on connecting students their food sources and sustainable practices, check out the free downloads and other resources available via the Center for Ecoliteracy.

Sept. 22 Workshops: Youth Gardens as Classrooms

Home Gardening Support Network, Maui School Garden Network, Community Work Day and Grow Some Good are pleased to announce a Youth Gardening Workshop to make school garden information and experiences more accessible to teachers, volunteers and others who work with youth-oriented garden programs. Click on the link below for a workshop agenda:
These workshops will feature hands-on activities to help integrate school garden work within all disciplines and give advice on how to maintain and fund school gardens. The workshop day will run from 8:00 am – 1:30 pm with optional post workshop sessions from 2:00-3:00 pm and will include lunch and a food demonstration.
Register by emailing Anne Gachuhi at hgsn@gmail.com or calling (808) 446-2361.  The fee is $35.00.
Scholarships:  Kihei Elementary School and Lokelani Intermediate School teachers, staff and counselors can receive scholarships from Grow Some Good by sending an email with interest to info@GrowSomeGood.org. Please include your name, school, grade level and phone number for follow up in your email.
We hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to gain knowledge that will help advance your programs and create more real-life learning opportunities for your students.

Seaweed Lesson and Use in the Garden

The following is a synopsis of seaweed lessons and materials used for YMCA classes (mixed ages).

Goal: Give students a understanding of the value of seaweed and it’s importance in our Hawaiian economy and culture.
Time: 30 minutes

Basic Plan:

1) Gather students in circle.  Ask them to share what they know about seaweed or ask them to describe seaweed.  Describe/ask about the 3 words: Seaweed,  Limu (Hawaiian name for seaweed) and Algae (botanical name for seaweed).

2) Ask them when they last used a seaweed product? What if I told you that I bet that all of you put seaweed in your mouth this morning?   Seaweed is a key ingredient in toothpaste!

3) Go over the 3 names that you’ll find in common products  that are actually seaweed.   See this lesson for more information.   Kids will try to tell you that seaweed is not in their chocolate or Strawberry Ice Cream! Seaweeds are high in nutrients and minerals. They are used as a biofuel and have some amazing properties that are used in medicines and vitamins.

4) Talk about how seaweed is different from other plants.   What does it need to grow (sunlight, nutrients, water)?  Talk about how it doesn’t get nutrients from the rocks, sand but some seaweeds establish a “holdfast” to keep them from floating away.  But some seaweeds do just float in the water.   Show examples of how some seaweed has “bladder balls” (THEY POP REALLY LOUD!)  that provides buoyancy so the plant grows up toward the surface.

5) Describe the 3 basic colors of seaweed – Green, Brown and Red.  Describe the different sizes and shapes.  Some seaweed is too small to see and some grows over 100 feet tall.  Seaweeds in Hawaii can grow up to 12 inches per week although that is not normal.  The large kelp beds of California can grow up to 2 feet a day!  They cut it weekly to make fertilizers.


6) Show the students how we are going to rinse the seaweed that was collected from the beach.  Remind them that there may be small snails in the seaweed.  We rinse the seaweed to remove the salt before we will put in the garden. Have students take a handful and rinse it,  dunk it again to rinse and put on a screen.

7) Have the kids sort through the seaweed on the screen identifying as many different forms of seaweed as they can. Put the excess seaweed in the buckets for the last step.

8) As they find a new seaweed, have them place it in a container on the table. Observe how the seaweed changes as it it placed in water. Some look like slime but become beautiful underwater. Kids will stuff the bottles if you let them so encourage them to put in just enough to clearly see and identify.

9) If you have older kids and/or more time, have the kids go through the additional resources and identify the different seaweeds. Is it alien, endemic or unknown. Is it edible?

10) Have the students take the buckets of seaweed and toss them around the garden adding great minerals and fertilizer!

Answers to Tough Questions: (Beware)

  • Can I take this seaweed home?  No – Your mom won’t want stinky seaweed!  or   Sure, after we spread it on the garden soil, you can come back with your mom or dad and take home whatever you want.
  • Can I eat this seaweed?  No – even if it is edible, we do not have the correct cleaning facilities for seaweed.
  • Is this a piece of coral? Yes, dead coral is often used by seaweed as a holdfast.  When waves are strong it gets washed up to the beach.  Did you know that coral is actually a colony of small animals (polyps) and has a symbiotic relationship with a special algae (seaweed) called zooxanthellae.  If the algae dies, so does the coral.  This is often referred to as coral bleaching because the coral will turn white.
  • Is this a new seaweed? There is always at least one child who will keep bringing the same type of seaweed up and asking this.  Ask them to describe the color, size and texture of the leaves and make them conclude that it is the same as the last one they brought up.
  • Do fish eat seaweed?  Yes, but not all fish.  Many fish hide in seaweed.  Some even change colors so they are very hard to see when in their favorite seaweed.  Turtles also eat seaweed as well as many crabs, star fish,  and other sea animals.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Id of Hawaii Seaweeds: http://www.hawaii.edu/reefalgae/natives/sgfieldguide.htm

Id of Edible Limu in Hawaii: http://www.hawaii.edu/reefalgae/publications/ediblelimu/

Kalo Harvest for Makahiki Season

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In celebration of the opening of Makahiki season this month, students from Mr. Little’s fourth grade class harvested the remaining taro (called kalo in Hawaiian). The kalo patch was planted and cultivated by last year’s fourth graders with the help of local kalo farmer Hōkūao Pellegrino. During the harvest, students learned the traditional mo’olelo (story) of Haloa (the “root of life”) and the connection of Hawaiians to this revered food staple, the earth and to all living things. After harvesting the kalo, students learned how to prepare the huli (the leaves were removed and the corm cut from the huli – the top portion of the corm) for planting while volunteers assisted students as they worked to lomi (prepare by massaging & loosening) the soil for the new huli.

By the end of the day, more than 60 new kalo plants were carefully planted by students and volunteers. Students also harvested more than 10 lbs. of ‘olena (turmeric root) which were planted within the kalo patch. Next up, students will learn how to prepare and serve kalo, by pounding poi. This process is called pa’i’ai in Hawaiian. All of this in preparation for a four month long Makahiki Festival and study of the traditional offerings of gratitude to Lono (Hawaiian god of fertility) for a bountiful harvest and the new crops to come!

Link here to a complete slideshow.