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DeGrazia Elementary Builds its Gardens

Leonard Schutt,   Degrazia Elementary School
Farm to School — Know Your Foods
Access to Healthy Foods
This year, our school implemented a new school garden for grade levels to share growing seasonal veggies, fruits and herbs. The plan was put into place before the school year started, when new shading was installed per a generous donation from the PTO. Next, we were able to get small grants to build the gardens under the shade. The garden area consists of small grade level wooden boxes and small green houses as well. Fertilizer and other needed growing supplies were purchased so the school could begin to plant the school’s first crops, which were tomatoes and marigolds after the schools theme this year. DeGrazia earned one of the walk on grants last year from Blue Cross and Blue Shield. We purchased and put together the first two indoor Tower gardens to use as incubators to grow and plant seasonal fruits, veggies and herbs in our outdoor gardens. Garden Club will help with maintaining the gardens and will take a roll in cultivating the first tower garden crops, with the help of a parent who owns several of the towers and grows different veggies, fruits and herbs at their home. DeGrazia learned of the STEM grants for teachers and had grade levels go out and apply for grants so they could each have a tower garden for their grade levels. So far, GEM has a new Tower Garden and 1st and 5th grades have applied and are await to hear back as well for the tower gardens. The goal is to have one tower garden per grade level and GEM. Our next year goal is to be able to certify our gardens so that students can maintain, grow and taste the crops they produce as well as have healthy tasty Tuesdays with the seasonal crops for next year.

What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Staff at school just too busy, wellness low priority, struggling to grow younger grade levels to sign up and work towards ambassadorship. New Student Council Advisor and just too much on plate to add more. Funding going forward after the Walk on grant moneys allocated is gone. Invite the Student Council Advisor to the next FUTP 60 training next school year and work to get them on board. New Principal next year and getting the new Principal to attend the the training .