FoodCorps Friday-Continuing Farm to School Programming Over the Summer
By, Carrollton City Schools service member, Dory Cooper
The last day of school has arrived for many Georgia schools and with it, some really exciting opportunities to continue garden and nutrition education throughout the summer.
Summer Feeding Programs
USDA sponsored Summer Feeding Programs offer free meals to all children under the age of 18 to ensure that children, who rely on school meals to eat, are getting at least one nutritious meal over the summer.
It is also a great opportunity to get creative with community outreach strategies! We have already had significant local media attention and several press releases around our summer event schedule.
At Carrollton City Schools, we are promoting summer meals through weekly healthy kids activities with the hopes of attracting and retaining the number of kids eating throughout the summer. This flyer was distributed at the end of the year and posted around town. For more tips and ideas, check out Summer Food, Summer Moves.
Last week began the first week of summer feeding and the first community activity. I did a cooking demo making corn and black bean salsa, a favorite school lunch recipe. This simple recipe adds a little extra nutrition to a summer staple of chips and salsa. We had over 20 kids learning cooking basics while enjoying their lunch with parents and neighbors.
Summer school programs often focus on math and reading standards, which can easily be tied to gardening and cooking lessons! Hands on, outdoor lessons are summer appropriate and make being back at school a little more exciting for the students. (This will also solve the question of summer garden maintenance)
So far this summer, my students and I explored the garden as insect detectives and got to harvest/taste the radishes that we planted in the spring. The students have been excited to see the changes in our garden and can’t wait to try everything we have planted. As we were leaving our first lesson, one 1st grader told me, “I really hope that when we come back next week the corn is ready to pick.” I hope so too!
Summer Garden Maintenance
There are several ways to keep your gardens and maintenance crew happy over the summer.
- Summer Programming – One of our garden beds (pictured above) will be utilized during summer school, so I was sure to let our admin in charge of landscaping know that the students and I will be caring for it.
- Plant cover crops – In our Junior High School garden, I cleared out the few vegetable plants that were remaining and planted an array of flowers to keep the space looking pretty with little maintenance.
- Plant Low Maintenance Fall Gardens – halfway through the summer I plan to begin planting our 3 sisters garden to be utilized by the 3rd grade social studies classes in the fall. This will allow them to utilize the garden at the start of the year, instead of waiting the spring, and be relatively low maintenance over the summer.
- Clear Garden Beds – It can be tough to clear out a bed that has potential to grow further over the summer, but if no one will be able to care for it or utilize the crops it may be best just to clear it out. We cleared out Pre-K gardens that were beginning to over grow. Even though it was sad, we will be ready to start strong in the fall.
- Volunteers – utilize your community networks and volunteer base to help maintain gardens over the summer or organize a garden clean-up day.