By FoodCorps GA fellow, Sumer Ladd
National October Farm to School month starts tomorrow, and all the excitement brings up memories of my learning experiences with food during my childhood.
When I was in elementary school, I learned to count by counting candy covered chocolate. We’d sort the candies by the color, count the red’s, count the blue’s, count by five’s, and count by two’s. On the 100th day of school, we celebrated by counting 100 various sweet treats, and at the end of the day, I earned my very own bag of 100 candies. My mom blames my sweet tooth on her consumption of sweets when she was pregnant with me, but I also think my overexposure to sweets when I was in school played a huge role, too.
What if instead of learning to count with candy, I learned to count with seeds instead? What if I then took those seeds and planted them in my school’s garden and learned how many carrots I could grow in an 8×4 space? Would exposing me to nature and health early on while teaching me one of the most important skills taught in school, counting, have made a difference in my health and what I chose to eat?
Last week at Level Grove Elementary in Cornelia, GA, our FoodCorps GA team taught a lesson during our state orientation training, created by Food Bank of Northeast Georgia service member, Susie. This lesson covered second grade science, ELA, and math standards, and included planting seeds and seedlings in the school’s garden. Students read a book called The Vegetables Go To Bed by Christopher King, observed and classified plants in the garden by their plant parts and stages in the plant life cycle, and sorted and counted seeds by five’s and ten’s and compared two and three digit numbers.
October is National Farm to School Month, and it’s the perfect opportunity to expose students to healthy food in the classroom! Farm to School implementation in school can be as simple as taking any tried and true lesson, and swapping “a, b, c” with “apples, bananas, carrots,” finding the volume of a spinach smoothie instead of an ice cream cone, or counting seeds instead of candies. These are simple swaps that may make a huge difference in a child’s health and what they choose to eat. Sign up to participate in October Farm to School Month and recieve standards-based farm to school curriculum, recipes, and more at http://georgiaorganics.org/for-schools/leafittospinach!