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Earth Notes

Earth Notes: Growing School Lunches, and More


By Rachel Turiel

Flagstaff, AZ – In southwest Colorado's La Plata County, thousands of small hands are cultivating eighteen different school gardens. From preschoolers to high school students, children are participating in the cycle of food and sowing the seeds of their own school lunches.

The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado has been setting up school gardens since 1998. Food is only one of the many notable things harvested.

The younger elementary grades study the five senses by smelling mint, fondling fuzzy leaves of lamb's ear, and listening to the wind rattle cornstalks.

Third graders, who in the classroom study prehistoric Colorado cultures, have built raised beds out of clay and straw, Anasazi style. And what goes into the adobe beds? The staple of Anasazi agriculture, naturally: corn, beans and squash.

Because fourth graders study decomposition, the Garden Project takes them directly to their school's compost pile. In the fall, fifteen items are buried in the compost, and the kids guess which will decompose fastest and why. In the spring the same students dig through the pile to check the answer.

Middle school students use produce from their garden in their school cooking classes. High school students have grown vegetable starts in their greenhouse and donated them to the garden at the local soup kitchen.

The Garden Project has successfully connected many thousands of children to the food cycle while proving that gardens are a teaching tool for numerous subjects. And those fresh, child-grown carrots on the school cafeteria menu? They deserve an A+.

For Web site: Learn more about the Garden Project at