Northside ISD in San Antonio applied for and received a 2017 Expanding the 3E’s Nutrition Grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). Grant funds were used to support the establishment of eight garden bed systems throughout the district. The goal of the garden project is to give students access to garden based learning and to provide educators with training using the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension’s Youth Garden Education Training program.
In a recent quarterly report, Northside ISD stated, “Each school will build an average of five raised garden beds, maintained daily by a core group of 25 students per school. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension will provide Youth Garden Educator Training to all lead teachers, who will then train other teachers on gardening techniques. The garden beds will be available to all teachers to use as the staging ground for inquiry-based science and nutrition lessons. Through a partnership with the San Antonio Food Bank, local farmers and chefs will visit schools to work with students and provide information on healthy eating. When the vegetables are harvested, each campus will host a community event inviting parents and community members to sample the students’ produce and learn about the importance of fruits and vegetables in a healthy diet.”
Each elementary campus has reported positive outcomes. Many have had an opportunity to share healthy recipes for harvested items with family and community members during Farm Fresh Friday celebrations. Villareal Elementary reported, “Students are really coming out of their comfort zone and trying out vegetables that they have never tried before! Growing these vegetables is giving them the courage to try new things.”