Most parents know about Bunnell Elementary’s Farm to School Golden Shovel Award. The award from the Florida Department of Agriculture recognized students and educator’s extraordinary garden efforts.
School gardens have been increasing in popularity across Florida and nationwide. The numerous benefits of school gardening for students, teachers and the community are becoming more evident. Teachers perceive the garden as an engaging environment for students. It is a place where they learn skills that can be passed on to their homes benefiting their families and communities’ health.
The commitment to raise a generation who is devoted to their food starts as early as the second grade at Bunnell Elementary School. Around May, three second-grade teachers initiated a small STEM project with a grant Mrs. Warren, secured. The students planted different vegetable seeds, like eggplant, observed the plant’s growth and at the end of the school year took them home. We enjoyed watching them fully mature in our humble garden and harvesting what we have grown. It gave the children a sense of responsibility and achievement during the summer break. The eggplants are still growing providing us, and friends with some savory dishes. One of my favorites, Baba Ghanoush (eggplant spread/dip), which has taken the kids and family members on a cultural and culinary adventure through the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
This project further enhanced our children’s connection and love for our environment and every component that impact our food. A curriculum that expands beyond the walls of the classroom helps young kids play an effective role in the future of green technologies.
A STEM activity that started in the classroom and continued at home was exciting and engaging for kids and parents alike, which holds the assurance of encouraging the children’s STEM interest.