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Extension > Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners > Garden Camp Finale


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.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Garden Camp Finale

By Kirsten Saylor, School Garden Coordinator

The last session of Garden Camp, May 22, fell on a brilliant day! The sun was out and a gentle breeze ruffled the air. On this afternoon, third grade students at Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul harvested what they had grown in the school’s garden. They learned how to harvest the produce safely and wash it, and then they tasted the culmination of their work.

This was also a highly coordinated session! We had pushed back the harvest a week in the hope of giving more time for crops to grow.

close-up of a raised garden bed with lettuce, radishes, and peas growing
Buce Vento's well-marked raised beds.

Only half of the counselors were able to join us as a result. Working with SNAP-Ed Educator Shirley Vang and St. Paul Public Schools Nutrition Services' Jill Westlund, we were able to adapt the initial strategy so that every student would be involved in one of three stations: Harvesting, Wash, and Salad!

Half of the class would harvest and wash in the first half of the session, while the other half would have a quick lesson on salad making, nutrition, and preparing melon. At half time, students switched from Salad Station to Harvesting, and from Harvesting to Salad Station.

Harvesting and Washing

Before harvesting, students were trained on safe food handling, helping to refresh their memory of how germs move and what steps to take to ensure the food they harvest is safe for others to eat. Then they were off to their plot with a counselor to learn how to harvest.

Let the harvesting begin!

Afterwards, they took their produce to the "Wash Station" where we had set-up a washing station based on best practices learned from MDA and Extension at the Schoolyard Garden Conference. Each team of students was able to learn from Jill, or one of her two interns, how to wash produce, and then invited to try it right there and then. Students were taught to think about the full sensory experience beyond just tasting. They were encouraged to look at the beautiful colors, notice the fresh smell, and think about whether or not the texture was appealing to them.

Kale Salad and Cantaloupe

In the meantime, the other half of the class went to the Salad Station, where Shirley and her intern, Choua, served Kale Salad and discussed nutritional benefits and tasty ways of making salad. Our goal was to help third graders think creatively about salad and putting different flavors together.

In addition, Shirley also showed students a whole cantaloupe. She demonstrated, how to prepare it, and then students tasted the melon. This activity came about because a student in an earlier camp session noted that he had not seen a whole melon before. His smile when he realized that we responded to his suggestion, spoke loudly of how we instructors can take simple steps to ensure that the lessons fits needs and honors students as collaborators in developing meaningful content.

At this Garden Camp, Bruce Vento students essentially become co-teachers with the garden. We the educators met them and the garden and built upon their interests to deliver a rich garden experience, one that we hope will inspire them for years to come.


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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