School Garden Initiative
Sponsored by the Lafayette Parish Master Gardener Association, Lafayette 4-H Club, and LSU AgCenter
The objectives of the program are to:
- Augment and complement traditional classroom studies in Science, English and Mathematics through hands-on instruction of gardening and the plant life cycle.
- Teach the gardening basics of preparing soil, planting seeds, setting plants, caring for and harvesting plants.
- Cultivate a greater awareness for the environment within all participants.
- Foster students’ interest in gardening as an enjoyable hobby of a healthy lifestyle.
- Grow kid’s passion for learning, success and serving their community through a unique gardening education.
Benefits of the program are wide-ranging:
Academic Benefits: Data has indicated that the gardens were used to enhance the student’s academic leaning, it promoted the learning through social and recreational experiences;
Health/Nutrition Benefits: This is among one of the most important factors in America as well as in Louisiana due to the increase in obesity. Research indicates that children have made significant improvements in vegetable preferences due to gardening;
Parental/Community Engagement: This has been linked to improvement in grades and attitude of students regardless if it is their parent or guardian, a community leader, or a mentor involved or volunteering with the garden;
Teambuilding/Decision Making Skills: Data shows gardening has helped teach students the benefits of working together as a group to achieve a common goal and how cooperation can lead to the development of critical thinking and problem solving;
Green Space: A push for increased “green space” has been a re-occurring issue in the United States since World War I. This is extremely important especially in suburban and urban areas across America.
Throughout the school year, students participate in the entire development of the garden as well as a service component. They are part of the decision making process as it relates to basic gardening, preparing the soil, choosing crops, planting seeds, weeding and harvesting. The harvest has been used for healthy food demonstrations and sent home for participant families. Youth are taught lessons in the area of improving nutritional choices, exercise and increase their awareness.
Learn more about the School Garden Initiative here.
Updated: January 2018
Act 404 - Louisiana Farm-to-School Program
This Act requires the Board of Elementary & Secondary Education and the Department of Agriculture & Forestry to develop and implement a farm-to-school program to be administered by the state Department of Education. The bill was passed with an overwhelming vote of 35-0 in the Senate and 85-0 in the House. Although a large task, it is exciting to see the State of Louisiana support this initiative for local, healthy foods in schools.
Currently, F2S members are working to bring this new state law into realization. The goals include:
- Encourage connection between schools and local farmers through the use of a farm and crop inventory across the state, by region;
- Simplify the purchasing process between schools and farmers by disseminating specific farm to school guidelines to clarify contracting, school food safety and liability insurance requirements;
- Support efforts to ensure that schools have the proper equipment to prepare and process fresh food onsite;
- Integrate farm to school in the classroom through hands-on activities related to agriculture, food, health, and nutrition such as farm visits, cooking demonstrations, taste tests, and school gardening and compost programs; and
- Develop a Louisiana Farm to School Handbook to provide guidance and resources to schools and farmers for farm to school program success.
Learn More about Farm-to-School Advocacy:
Updated: January 2018