School gardens are the core of our farm to school programs. School gardens merge local food production and educational opportunities into one engaging space, providing numerous opportunities for hands-on, experiential learning and a multitude of benefits for students and the greater community.
Benefits of School Gardens
Some of the benefits of school gardens include:
★ Increase in students' academic achievement
★ Positive learning environment for teachers and students
★ Increase in children's consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables
★ Enhanced psychosocial development of youth
★ Valuable tool in educational engagement
★ Develop environmental stewardship skills
★ Reduce carbon footprint
Evidence suggests that students are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables when they grow it themselves. In our schools, we've found that students actually notice a difference in the taste and quality of foods when they are grown locally and seasonally rather than imported, and prefer to eat local produce.
"When they grow it, they eat it."
We routinely host "taste tests" in our classrooms using the Harvest of the Month framework to expose students to new foods being grown in our school gardens and teach them about the benefits of eating fresh, healthy foods.
Our School Gardens
We have established school gardens at four schools in Marin County, but the vast majority of production currently occurs at San Pedro. Between June 2016 and July 2018, San Pedro produced nearly 2,000 pounds of crops, and this number continues to grow! We are determined to increase our school garden production each year.
Our school gardens produce a variety of crops depending on the season. The graph below shows the top 12 crops grown in our gardens according to weight. However, our gardens also produce crops from the following list:
Our school gardens sell to a variety of buyers, including school districts, businesses, and the community. Over 80% of our fruits and vegetables are sold to schools. The San Rafael City School District received 1,630 pounds of crops from our school gardens between June 2016 and July 2018. Businesses, which include local restaurants, purchased 149 pounds or 8% of produce. The community, which includes individual purchases and donations, accounted for 132 pounds of 7% of produce during this time period.