Apple Seeds coordinates the after school gardening clubs at Leverett, Owl Creek and Butterfield Elementary Schools in Fayetteville.
Initiated in 2009, the Leverett gardening club uses edible landscaping on the school campus and a more traditional neighborhood garden to teach gardening skills to students in grades K-5. Besides fun, hands-on gardening activities, we also provide a healthy snack for each student in the club and nutrition lessons. The University of Arkansas GroGreen Club is our primary partner at Leverett.
Beginning in the Spring of 2011 Apple Seeds also coordinates the after school gardening club at Butterfield Trail Elementary School. This weekly club uses the square foot gardening method to teach fifth grade students about gardening skills in a fun environment.
Also established in the Spring 2011, we started an afterschool gardening program at Owl Creek School in partnership with the Fayetteville Boys and Girls Club and the teachers and staff at Owl Creek School.
Apple Seeds works with teachers, administrators, parents and students at each school to develop a program that fits their needs. If requested, we can work with the school community to choose a garden site and develop it with student involvement. We can assist in obtaining necessary tools and materials, and establish a garden maintenance plan. We can provide lesson plans that fit within the Arkansas state education frameworks, and suggest guest instructors. And we can help establish partnerships with organizations like the University of Arkansas Department of Horticulture, the Cooperative Extension Service, and Fayetteville Community Garden Coalition for support. Most importantly, we work with schools to plan for the sustainability of their garden and the associated educational programs.
The goal of the gardening program is to teach gardening skills and nutrition in an engaging, hands-on environment that reinforces classroom learning and encourages students to make healthy life choices. The program will empower students with the skills to grow their own food, the knowledge to make healthy food choices, and also teach the value of gardening as exercise.
Studies show that participatory educational programs such as this – some beginning at a very early age – lead to increased knowledge about nutrition and changes in eating behavior among students, decreasing factors that lead to obesity. We’ve also found that gardening programs can create bonds among students across grade levels, add to students’ cooperation skills, and help to establish a sense of ownership in their school by involving students in development of the school campus.