Get Moving! Get Growing!
Having the students grow their own food increases their responsibility for their own nutrition. Throughout this year, we have been including various new foods in our daily lunches; the students are interested in growing their own food to then cultivate and prepare them. In a tiny town where the SES is very low, it is crucial to increase awareness, sustainability, and diversity in our student’s diets. A variety of different foods were introduced throughout the year and the option of these different foods was given to the students to choose from.
Other than the introduction of different foods, physical activity is another area where students with different abilities are lacking. Gardening has given them a chance to increase their physical activity in an outdoor space. Over the next few weeks, the transplantation process will continue as we bring the garden boxes outside. Many of the students do not have adequate time outside so this will be an added asset to their lives. Spending time outdoors has so many proven benefits for mental health as well as physical health. These students need more opportunities like these.
An accessible garden was started with adults of different abilities. This was achieved through collaboration with community individuals including the CLC as well as local volunteers who donated and built the custom garden beds. Through collaboration with Family Ties, we’ve had monthly collective cooking activities which will continue with the produce from our garden with some of their donated seeds. A local farmer donated seeds and a couple of planting sessions were completed with her. She also led some education sessions around the anatomy of a plant as well as the important basics surrounding agriculture. Including these seeds from local sources reduces our environmental impact as well.
Reflection & Celebration
Our garden beds are just starting to provide and grow. Students repurposed old containers to be used as temporary transplants until the weather is appropriate for the transition outdoors. Our community impact will continue to multiply through the summer and fall as more students are reached through our summer camp program. During our return in the fall, the students will be cooking more and more with the produce with salsas and sauces that will also follow them back to their homes. The introduction of healthier alternatives was a huge topic this year and its impact will continue into the following year. We will continue our partnership with Family Ties with collective cooking sessions and recipes based on the variety of produce cultivated. The new groups of students (minimum 20) that will start their journeys at The Anchor in the 2022-23 school year, will also be impacted during their collaborative activities with the students of The Social Integration Program. Pumpkins were also planted which will lead us into some late fall activities. The impact this project has had on these students has already been clearly seen through their seed choices as well as their maintenance of the plants. By moving all the planters outside, the rainwater collected and used to water will save the use of town water as well as ease the task of watering. Throughout the summer, a team of community volunteers will continue to keep an eye on the accessible garden beds and cultivate and freeze produce as needed for the students to use during the school year.