3100 Sycamore Ln, Davis, CA 95616
Gail Doesken, teacher, garden coordinator
Davis Waldorf has school garden, which included weekly gardening classes for grades 1-5. With the help of Taste Our Garden grant funds, this year they were able to include gardening classes for grades 6th through 8th as well. Through this expansion, the school is working to add a salad bar to the school lunch program as a way of cultivating a taste for fresh, nutritious, seasonal produce.
Davis Waldorf is purchasing a tool shed and basic tools (such as hand trowels, compost bin, hand hoes), so that the gardening program can effectively engage the children actively in the work of the garden, while providing safe and time-efficient tool and garden class storage.
Garden class instruction includes planting vegetables, caring for them, harvesting them and enjoying them together as snacks. Adding a school salad bar is an opportunity for children to take the experience with fresh produce from the garden to the table. This helps to educate parents, teachers and staff of the value of fresh produce, and to provide an opportunity for the garden to source some seasonal salad bar offerings.
Throughout the gardening program the emphasis is placed on creating and engaging in the experience as a way to learning concepts, as well as primarily focusing on engagement in the garden through the senses.
The 3rd grade curriculum emphasizes learning about and experiencing farming and cooking. The garden serves a key role in facilitating that curriculum, and the 3rd grade class spent a portion of each gardening class preparing and tasting freshly harvested food.
They grew and harvested:
kale from the garden, made pizza in their wood-fired oven with kale pesto;
salad vegetables together and prepared salads together; and
fresh herbs and used them to prepare healthy salad dressing options.
The third grade students learn about and care for the compost in the gardens, and become aware of the important role this plays in providing healthful and responsible fresh produce. This year students in the 3rd grade brought this understanding to the entire school by teaching other grades how to prepare their school lunch waste to be composted in the school compost system. The 3rd grade is also starting vegetable plants such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant to be sold during school events.
Davis Waldorf is also working to extend the school garden into the backyards of families throughout the school in the summer months. Teaching children to care for the plants during the spring months, as well as providing basic care guidelines for families, in the form of handouts, helps generate more success with home gardening for those new to growing vegetables at home.
What else are you working on in your garden program growth? “Our preschool cooks their own snacks throughout the year and our school garden grows veggies used in their soups and fresh-cut snacks throughout the year,” said Gail Doesken. “Our school garden supplies fresh kale and chard to preschool soups each week, and preschool children visit the garden and are given opportunities to taste new vegetables each week during their visits. We are working on working alongside each grade teacher to bring curriculum relevant to the year into the gardening experience as well as to cultivate stewardship, care and curiosity in the growing and tending of food.”
~ by Beth Harrison, Yolo Farm to Fork Executive Director