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Cardinal All-Star Gardening

Oscar Cavazos,   William C Calk Elem School
Access to Healthy Foods, Community Involvement, Physical Activity Participation, Student Leadership,  Teamwork
Cardinal All-Star Gardening

Our Play was Farm to School. Our main goals in our gardens are Physical activity, community involvement, and awareness of dairy nutrition and diet. With the help of Ricardo Juarez and a group of volunteers from the Home Depot, Pinnacle Fitness and Catherine Tunnel of the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries, the students had hands on experience. They were taught how to clean up the gardens, how to remove weeds, adding new soil, and planting new vegetables seeds in the garden. Throughout the play they were given the responsibility to water the gardens, remove weeds, check for bugs and damages to the garden and look for ripened vegetables. They assisted in the everyday maintenance of the gardens. They have also been involved in researching and choosing recipes to make with the vegetables from the gardens while also putting a huge emphasis on the use of dairy products. We educate the students, faculty, and parents about the healthy lifestyle one can achieve by growing and using their own vegetables. They are also educated on how to care for their garden and they learned that their garden is a reflection of how much time and effort they put into it. We incorporated dairy products in caring and maintaining our gardens. When working in our gardens, we substituted Gatorade with Milk to keep our students hydrated. With the vegetables from our garden we made dips and smoothies which we used milk, cheese, sour cream and yogurt as the main ingredients. We also drank milk with our samples of the dips and smoothies we made. A local dairy farmer came to the campus and educated the students on how they raise the cows, where the milk comes from and provided demonstrations on milking the cow. We also provided examples to students of different dishes and drinks that are made with diary that they were not aware of. In addition to implementing the gardens, our play is sustainable because we are able to keep up with it all year long. We monitor the vegetables so that as they become ripe, we can pick them so that way the plant can produce more. In this process we can also look for signs of trouble in the vegetables so those parts can be cared for or removed. Together we all have already set the dates to plant in the summer and fall. We have a schedule for students and volunteers to come by, to water and care for the gardens.

How did you accomplish your goals?

The healthy eating Play met out campus wellness goals in a number of ways. This goal was met by having local businesses come out and dedicate their time and resources. Another is educating students, staff and parents about the importance of garden maintenance. Students learned where milk comes from, its different uses in dairy products and the benefits of using dairy products. They were indirectly taught the benefits of physical activity along with a healthy diet can lead to a healthy lifestyle.

How did students and adults work together as a team?

The students started out by coming to the school on a Saturday to help clean the gardens. With the help of Ricardo Juarez and a group of volunteers from the Home Depot, Pinnacle Fitness and Catherine Tunnel of the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries, the students had hands on experience. . The Child Nutrition Services at our school partnered up with us by allowing us to use the kitchen to prepare our dishes we made with the vegetables from our garden.

What improvements have you seen at your school?

We are excited about the improvements at our school. The students have learned to be more respectful, be more active, and also be more productive in the classroom. They have been more respectful towards each other as well as their garden. They have learned that by eating the vegetables they grow as well as being more active, their bodies and minds work better. Our students have been more attentive in class which has led to better scores and behavior. Thank you Fuel Up to Play 60 and NDC.