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Extension > Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners > To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow

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On this blog, we share regular updates about the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners partnership between Extension's Children, Youth & Family Consortium and Bruce Vento Elementary School.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow

By: Judy Myers


Extension Educator & Co-facilitator for Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners partnership with Bruce Vento Elementary School

Imagine a whole day devoted to schoolyard gardens. As a great champion for school and community gardens, Michelle Obama would have enjoyed seeing over 300 participants at the fourth annual Minnesota Schoolyard Coalition Conference at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.



Betti Wiggins, Executive Director, Detroit Public Schools’ Office of Nutrition described herself as “just a school cook.” Her keynote presentation certainly indicated she’s not “just anyone.” She has significantly changed the nutrition program in the Detroit school district where she’s taught food service workers the value of serving fresh foods from school gardens and a district school-run farm. She eliminated chocolate milk and French fries from school menus and introduced more fresh fruits and vegetables. Elementary students grow tomatoes, yellow squash, and peppers to make the “stop light salad” in their classrooms; high school students enjoy more variety at their salad bars.

Some of the afternoon breakout sessions included:
  • STEM in the garden
  • Winter gardening in Minnesota: Classrooms with a tower garden
  • Garden to cafeteria. 
I attended a breakout session about beekeeping and learned how some social studies teachers use bee hives as examples of living communities that share work and perform specific tasks. Another presenter talked about growing small fruit and attracting the right pollinators, highlighting strawberry and raspberry plants that work well in school settings. One session I found particularly interesting was about soil science. Two U of M soil science students talked about soil pollutants, soil testing, and building and maintaining healthy soil for school gardens. For more information about the day, visit 2016 Schoolyard Gardens Conference.

Be sure to put this on your calendar for next year — the Landscape Arboretum posts announcements about this event every spring. With hundreds attending each year, this may indicate that more schools are discovering the benefits of growing their own gardens — they’re great therapeutic and learning spaces!

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Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Learners is an ongoing partnership between the Extension Children, Youth, and Family Consortium and the Bruce Vento Elementary School. Together, along with many other partners, we are developing engaging learning environments that promote student learning and wellness.

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