Parents in the Ashland area of Central Missouri began digging into the locally grown and farm to school movement several years ago. Jenny Grabner, parent and cofounder of the Learning Garden says the program started small, with just a few dedicated parents. “It originally started as an afterschool program for 3rd and 4th graders,” she says, “and the popularity of the garden grew….now [it’s] mushroomed.”
The program now serves pre-K through 5th grade students in the Ashland district.
With funding from the University of Missouri’s Healthy Lifestyle Initiative, Grabner says that the Learning Garden offers teachers and parents hands-on ways to teach children about growing, preparing and eating fresh foods.
Moreover, she explains, using gardens as teaching tools make sense. “We need to stop separating the kitchen, the cafeteria, from the rest of the learning that’s going on in schools. [Gardens] could easily be integrated into the curriculum that the kids are doing anyway. There’s a tremendous amount of education just in knowing where your food came from and how it got to you and whether it’s good for you or bad for you.”
Learn more about the Learning Garden on Facebook.