K-8th grade
1100 Carrie St, West Sacramento, CA 95605
Tiffany Keller, teacher

Riverbank Elementary has never had a school garden, and they have been very excited at the prospect of delivering a “hands-on learning laboratory” in the form of a school garden to all grade levels. Their plan is to build a sustainable, productive, and well-tended garden year-round. They also have an active afterschool program and will establish a garden club and cooking club when harvest time rolls around.

Grant funds are allocated to wooden planter beds, drip kits, garden hose, garden spades, large shovels, tomato cages, and a stipend for an intern.

Riverbank’s goals for building a school garden are two-fold:

  • for students to have a hands-on experience with growing vegetables for personal consumption and garden management. The students will be involved in all aspects of the garden — from choosing which vegetables to plant through a class taste test of 10 or more vegetables to sowing seeds and planting seedlings, from daily tending to harvesting. The students will likely be inspired to learn about the vegetables we have planted; and
  • to generate a collective sense of accomplishment amongst students as well as satisfaction. This is to be a journey of discovery for many of them—discovering fresh food, developing a healthy relationship with food, and understanding the roles physical activity and food play in our well being.

What are some challenges this year? “With the district’s accessibility requirements, it has taken some time to come up with a plan that the they approved. We will build our permanent garden over the summer,” said Tiffany Keller, teacher and garden coordinator.

What did you do to introduce fresh vegetables? “This spring, we planted seeds for our micro-greens and home gardens. We started our seeds in recycled milk cartons, then did taste testing. The students’ favorite was by far the radish micro-greens! We tasted the fully grown vegetables to compare with the micro-greens we grew.”

“One student commented on the nutty and peppery flavor of arugula. Others were surprised at an unpeeled organic carrot, commenting on how crunchy and delicious it was. Overall, my students really enjoyed learning about the veggies, watching them grow from seed to seedling, and tasting the micro-greens. We have also grown vegetable plants for students to take home to be transplanted in home gardens.”

“My students have a new relationship with the vegetables we did and are growing, which was my goal for them. I turned it into a math project with a given budget. They have been working in groups to design their garden, figure out the actual space with area and perimeter, research the price of items, and the groups will be presenting their garden proposals to the class. I try to have real life math problems as part of critical thinking and problem solving in my class,” Tiffany said.

The new Riverbank garden will be built over the summer and planted in the fall.

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~by Beth Harrison, Yolo Farm to Fork Executive Director