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Davis Farm to School awards matching grants

By From page A5 | December 11, 2012

Davis Farm to School has announced 13 recipients of its 2012-13 matching grants of $250 to $500 in support of garden-based learning. Nugget Markets partnered with the organization to provide an additional $250 matching grant to five of the schools, resulting in total funding of $13,250 from Farm to School, the matching grantors and Nugget.

Grants go to Da Vinci High School; King High School; Harper, Holmes and Emerson junior high schools; and Birch Lane, Chávez, Korematsu, Montgomery, North Davis, Patwin, Pioneer and Willett elementary schools.

Matching grantors are the schools’ PTAs and PTOs, School Site Councils, garden clubs and contributions from community members.

The school garden program helps schools meet curriculum standards, including the environmental curriculum standard, and provides enrichment to students, taking advantage of teachable moments in nature, a news release said.

Davis Farm to School supports the Davis school district in its goals of increasing farm-fresh foods in school lunches, reducing solid waste through a comprehensive district recycling program and a compost pilot project, and providing farm and garden-based learning opportunities.

The awarded funds contribute to a wide spectrum of needs, from enhancing curriculum integration to forming lasting partnerships within the school district and surrounding communities to promote program sustainability, the news release said.

Funds are being used to:

* Expand a school garden to incorporate a community garden, with proceeds from renting the beds put back into the garden;

* Provide low-income families with an area where they can grow fresh fruits and vegetables;

* Teach third-, fourth- and fifth-graders about sustainability, nutrition and where food comes from after they harvest ingredients from the garden and use them to bake bread;

* Allow visiting experts to turn the garden into an outdoor classroom as they teach students about pollinators, native plants and habitat restoration;

* Give seventh-grade science students an opportunity test soils as they study the nitrogen cycle and integrate the idea of plant nutrients with a chemistry unit;

* Enhance art, science and culinary education as students create, conduct experiments and learn practical cooking skills, all drawn from the garden; and

* Allow biology classes to study food chains, biodiversity and ecological relationships through their observations in the garden.

“A full program of integrated learning is occurring unknowingly with math via the planning stage, language arts through signage and journaling and social science by learning the origins of food within the cultural context,” said Julia Van Soelen Kim, Davis Farm to School program coordinator.

Garden maintenance has been one of the more prevalent needs, Kim said, as irrigation systems need repair, gardening tools need replacement and seeds and plants need to be procured for each season.

In addition, a volunteer program has been established to bring UC Davis students majoring in ecology, farming and environmental studies to all of Davis’ elementary schools to enrich the garden curriculum.

For more information, visit www.davisfarmtoschool.org.

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