California Allocates $15 Million for School Gardens!
Why are these kids smiling? Well, they may have just heard that the state of California has taken the lead in the world of school gardening by allocating $15 million to help foster more gardens in the state's 6,000 schools where kids can learn more about protecting the environment and eating healthier as well. And both parents and teachers are excited about the concept, as three weeklong "School Garden Summer Training" seminars by the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center were filled to capacity, with some hopeful participants being turned away for lack of space. Parents and teachers spent the week learning about topics ranging from sheet mulching and permaculture to preparing vegetarian meals that taste great and kids will like... Under the state program, an average school receives $2,500, a small portion of the money needed to sustain a school garden. But the seed money now available seems to have spurred an avalanche of interest in the creation of school gardens. For example, only 37 out of 104 schools in the San Francisco district already have one, but a grand total of 81 schools have applied for the funding to create or upgrade one. It seems that PTAs and community organizations typically also help fund the gardens, and the San Francisco Unified School District raised money for school gardens twice by issuing bonds. An intriguing concept I must admit I'd never have thought would even be possible, especially not in a district as large as San Francisco. But as Arden Bucklin-Sporer, the school garden coordinator with the San Francisco schools puts it, "A Garden is a place where children can be on their own to a certain extent and where they can learn to take on responsibility." Hopefully, the idea of taking personal responsibility for the planet will come across in a way that encourages more and more students to take an interest in protecting it. And with childhood obesity rates rising dangerously, helping kids to appreciate vegetables and a healthier style of eating is certainly going to make a positive impact on their lives as well