CONWAY, Ark. – Local schools are emphasizing the importance of having gardens on campus through the Farm to School program.
The Carolyn Lewis Elementary School Garden keeps growing year after year. It teaches kids where their food comes from and how to eat healthy and sustainable meals.
Everything you see in the garden from the beds to the plant signs, students put together and planted seeds in an area next to the playground.
“It was just a whole bunch of dirt, but now it’s growing,” one student says.
“The plants need water, sunlight, space,” explains another student. “We do two hands apart and we stick it in.”
Healthy greens are not just growing outdoors. They’re sprouting inside classrooms too.
Students are learning about seeds, how to plant them and grow vegetables.
Next door in the cafeteria they get to do taste tests.
“I want you to get a little bit of the delicious radish salsa with mango and cilantro on it,” says Sarah Lane, Food Corps Service Member. It focuses on connecting schools with farmers and teaching nutrition to students.
“We were able to grow sweet potatoes in the garden bed right here. We planted them, harvested them and we made sweet potato French fries for all the students to try,” Lane explains.
Students are able to harvest some veggies from the garden and use them in school lunches. Sarah says it’s a great way for kids to understand how the food they eat ends up on their plate.
“I feel like this is just something that is missing from our schools where we’re really educating them to be future leaders and I’d also love for our future leaders to love the food that they eat so they can live healthy lives.”
Through the program, students see why it’s important to eat more colorful foods.
“So your bones will stay strong and your heart will keep pumping,” says a student. “Because I want to live longer and I don’t want to be flimsy.”
It’s a course that’s providing a source of nutritional value that teachers want to instill at an early age.
All 16 schools in Conway have a garden. A Farm to School grant helps make it possible.