- Author: Rose Hayden-Smith
Recently, I had the privilege to work with two sixth grade classes taught by a gifted educator in Ventura Unified School District, Anne Morningstar. Ms. Morningstar is the best kind of teacher: one who teaches superbly by inspiring her students to develop a love of learning, to think outside the box, and to apply what they learn. In the words of more than one sixth-grader, "she rocks!" I agree.
I spent some time discussing the concept of sustainable food systems with each class. We also discussed how fortunate these students are to live in an area that is so abundant and diverse in terms of the food that is produced. The students asked wonderful questions and offered thoughtful answers to the questions that I posed.
Each table group worked collaboratively to develop ideas and answers for six different discussion points about food systems, their role as consumers, and how they can encourage others their age to take positive actions to improve their school food system, decrease the food mile, and take a more active and informed role as consumers.
The result of their work was amazing, and will be posted on the VictoryGrower site in the next few days. I encourage you to check back to see the ideas that these students provided.
A few days after our discussion, I received a stack of cards from these remarkable students. More than a few described their home gardening efforts. I was not surprised that quite a few of these students gardened at home. After all, these are youth who have participated in Ventura Unified's Healthy School Project, which not only provides a wonderful farm-to-school program through its cafeterias, but also has a linked program that encourages school gardens. A number of the students had enjoyed farm-fresh produce from their school salad bar, and had also gardened with me during their six years at Loma Vista Elementary School. And Ventura County, as a whole, has a history of success in nurturing school garden programs, from the top down, and the bottom up. It's been a wonderful thing to watch and be part of. Clearly, exposure to these kinds of programs in school will positively influence behavior outside of school.
Most of the students, though, described what they dreamed of growing. If they read this, I'd encourage each of them to take the next step, to make the commitment to become a VictoryGrower by making a home garden their family's project this spring. It's the perfect time to pick up a hoe, make a family memory, and anticipate wonderful eating this summer.
I know that some have already started. During my recent visit, I gave each student vegetable seeds. When I visited the school again today, a student came up to me and said the seeds he'd planted had already sprouted. He was very excited. And so was I. Congratulations, Andrew, on being a VictoryGrower!
"A Garden for Everyone. Everyone in A Garden."