The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








An outdoor learning area has become a favorite spot for a break from the classroom or lunchtime in the garden at Auburn Village School. Courtesy photo.

Nut-free pesto

This recipe comes from Auburn Village School, where it’s made with the basil grown in the school garden. 
2 cups fresh basil leaves
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup olive oil
⅓ cup sunflower seeds
3 garlic cloves
Salt to taste
Combine basil with sunflower seeds in a food processor. Add garlic and cheese and pulse in food processor. Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a spatula. Add salt to taste.

School garden
Growing a science and nutrition education


 After Earth Day celebrations in his classroom, Chase, a fourth-grade student at Auburn Village School, writes:

My favorite station was the green smoothies and holding the little chicks. … I couldn’t believe how yummy the spinach smoothie was … those smoothies were the best. I liked the green one more than the pink [strawberry] one. … I can’t wait for my sugar snap peas to be ready to eat.
That’s right, a fourth-grader enjoyed a green kale smoothie, and he’s anxious to eat his sugar snap peas. It’s no miracle — it’s happening every day at Auburn Village School. 
The PTA started funding the school’s garden about four years ago. Now, the whole school is involved in the garden, and not just on Earth Day. Kindergarteners plant beans and morning glories inside the garden’s tee-pee, second-graders help use compost collected from the scraps in the cafeteria to nourish the garden, and fifth-graders harvest corn. 
Rachel Dowd is a parent of three at AVS, and she’s also the garden coordinator on the PTA. Dowd received Chase’s letter after the school’s Earth Day celebrations, and she shared it during a phone interview. 
“If they see it actually grow and they plant it and watch it flourish, they’re more apt to try it and to taste it,” Dowd said. “They really are taking ownership and feeling like it’s their piece of paradise at the school. … Really, every grade is taking a piece of it now.”
“There’s not a day that goes by I couldn’t do a lesson in the garden,” seventh-grade science and garden teacher Wendy Smith said.
This hands-on learning model has done more than teach kids where their vegetables come from. Students’ work in the garden ultimately ends up on their lunch tray in the cafeteria. The first- and fifth-grade classes plant and harvest about 60 pounds of potatoes in the garden, which are then roasted in the school kitchen.
“That’s one of the biggest crops used in the cafeteria,” Smith said. “I try to coordinate and make sure each team has their niche. … For years in a row, kids are planting and harvesting.”
Each grade has its own specific bed or crop to harvest, which rolls over when students move up to the next grade (for example, the fourth-graders will be planting corn in the spring and as fifth-graders will harvest in the fall). Teachers also integrate curriculum into the garden (like the sunflower unit third-graders are working on) or take class outside during nice weather. This sustainable garden model brings everything full circle, teaching students about nutrition, science and nature. 
And in the meantime, kale chips have become popular with third-graders.
Other crops that appear in the garden include tomatoes, sugar snap peas, lettuce, strawberries, chives, onions and garlic peppers. 
Last year, there was so much surplus from the summer harvest, AVS set up its own booth at the Auburn Farmers Market, with bundles of fresh herbs, swiss chard and salsa made by the students (kids also learn cooking skills, like how to properly use a knife).
“Learning where food comes from is one of the most important things a child can learn,” Smith said.  
As seen in the May 22, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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