Planting Seeds for Future Progress: A Year-End Reflection & Summary
- Building out a 150 square foot school garden to grow fresh, organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs for use in school classes, activities, and tasting events for students, school staff, and families. In 2019, we plan to get input from the students about new things to plant in the garden and expand their healthy eating options to new and unfamiliar foods!
- Out of the approximately 220 pounds of produce from the garden, about 80% was used in the school kitchen or incorporated into food tasting and healthy eating events for the school community.
- Hosting numerous bike riding and safety sessions during the summer with students from the school’s summer program to teach them how to ride properly and be safe when riding bikes in their neighborhoods. All of the student participants were able keep the bikes they received along with safety equipment courtesy of our partnership with Second Life Bikes, one of our local partners. Next steps for this aspect of the grant will be to begin work on introducing and implementing ideas to incorporate Safe Routes to Schools policies and best practices in 2019.
- Working with students to teach aspects of our Living Through Food curriculum so that students are aware of food sourcing, where their food comes from, and begin to be educated consumers able to read food labels and make healthier eating choices.
In evaluating our program, we used a pre- and post-program evaluation (you can see a copy at this link) to assess student learning around plant knowledge, gardening techniques, healthy eating, and sustainability. We were very pleased with the results – about 90% of students showed significant growth in their knowledge, and the group overall posted a 23.3% gain in their assessment scores. We look forward to doing some additional planning over the winter to incorporate the lessons we’ve learned from programming in the first year to kick off exciting new plans in 2019 to build on our positive momentum!
About the Grantee
Project U.S.E. is an experiential education organization based in Newark, New Jersey with over 40 years of experience providing hands-on learning experiences for groups of all ages and backgrounds. Project U.S.E. provides diverse programming, including school and community gardening, professional development workshops, and outdoor education programs at our Wildcat Mountain Wilderness Center.