Schools & Teachers
Helping Teachers Build Connections to Food and the Community through Specialized Programming
The Vegetable Connection’s Food School program reaches students and their families through three educational initiatives:
1) The Science of Gardening: A School Garden Curriculum K-5
3) In-School Presentations
The Science of Gardening: A School Garden Curriculum K-5
Numerous elementary and middle schools in the Poudre School District have wonderful working gardens on school grounds. These gardens are typically administered by a mix of parent volunteers, a team of teachers, and a garden club of some sort. Unfortunately, the efficacy of such garden programming depends on the uninterrupted service of dedicated volunteers. But what happens when volunteers move on, or lead teachers simply can’t find the time to create an entirely separate garden curriculum on their own? Teachers are miracle workers but they can’t (and shouldn’t!) have to do it all. The Food School aims to change all of this with our K-5 school garden curriculum, The Science of Gardening. We believe every child should participate in garden programming. Our curriculum emphasizes the connections between food and ourselves; encourages students to evaluate the differences between real and processed foods; and helps grow community in and around the garden space. The Science of Gardening is aligned to Colorado state standards and is taught in both the Spring and Fall. Contact Education Director, Jen Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 231-7203 to discuss dates, pricing, and lessons.
The Schools-to-Farms Initiative connects students of all ages to the land, food sources, community members, and one another. This experiential food education program is:
- aligned with Colorado Academic Standards K- 12 in Science, with direct extensions to Social Studies, and Comprehensive Health and Physical Education Standards
- designed to support in-school learning already happening in classrooms
- created with unique teacher and curricular goals in mind- developed by our Education Director, Jennifer Todd (a 17-year teaching veteran and certified teacher) and education interns
- enhances and extends classroom learning with hands-on, on-the-farm experiences
Schools-to-Farms Initiative for K-5th Students
Elementary school students are filled with energy, excitement, and an innate curiosity about the natural world; a perfect fit for our Farmers-in-Training (F.I.T.) program. Our goal is simple: Optimal time on a real farm for optimal learning of basic but vital concepts that kids can build on. Through F.I.T., The Food School aims to:
- immerse students in an on-the-farm setting where they can get an up close and personal view of food growing, farm work, and (depending on the farm) animal husbandry
- introduce young students to real farmers, their lives, and the amazing work they do in their communities
- introduce students to four overall themes of food and farming over the course of 8-weeks (one visit every other week); Soil, Seeds, Plant and Human Parallels, and Insects
- explore simple ways to prepare food on the farm and (when possible) in a school setting
To see a lesson plan example from The Food School’s Farmers-in-Training Program, please CLICK HERE.
Schools-to-Farms Initiative for 6th-8th Students
As middle schoolers, students not only begin making more decisions about the food they eat, they’re also better equipped to see the “whole story” of food. From how food reaches their dinner tables, to the effect of marketing/advertising on the food choices they make, middle school students begin to recognize that the health of the planet and their bodies often relate to food issues. With enhanced critical thinking skills and a rich curriculum, middle school students become more engaged citizens as they navigate making informed, socially responsible decisions.
We use an interactive curriculum, Nourish: Food + Community (created by The Center for Ecoliteracy) combined with our own innovative lesson plans, and local farms as experiential “classrooms” to explore the story of food, investigate the consequences of our daily choices, and discuss what sustainability in our communities really looks like. Through our middle school programming, The Food School aims to:
- increase food “literacy” among middle school students
- immerse students in an on-the-farm setting where they learn the story of food
- begin dialogue about food/sustainability framed in a community context and extending globally
- move beyond “micro” concepts to the “macro;” such as fair trade, in-season eating, biodiversity, public health, climate change, and social justice.
- combine media, film, action projects, handouts, lecture, and on-the-farm experiences to spark students’ imagination and inspire meaningful change in their personal lives and the life of their collective community
To see an example of a lesson plan from The Food School’s middle school programming, please CLICK HERE.
Schools-to-Farms Initiative for 9th-12th Students
High school students are able to think critically, dialogue reflectively, and process both the “micro” and “macro” concepts of the food industry, community health, and social justice. They’re eager to move beyond talking and throw themselves into hands-on action projects in a real world setting. The Food School and participating local farms feel privileged to provide a learning landscape where they can create positive change with their own two hands. Here, students get to do farm work, design/implement personal farming projects, evaluate existing farming methods, or get to work enhancing the farm with a project that might inspire others. At this age, students are encouraged to work cooperatively.
The Food School combines the needs of individual farmers, the academic goals of individual teachers, and the students’ plans to develop unique lessons that:
- encourage personal growth
- engage all the senses
- create dialogue in and out of the classroom, between students and community members, and among student groups
- require commitment to complete
To see an example of a lesson plan from our high school programming, please CLICK HERE.
Programming Costs for The Schools-to-Farms Initiative
Costs vary by program, please call Education Director Jennifer Todd (970)231-7203 for a quote.
To further our mission of supporting local farmers and the local food movement here in Fort Collins, The Food School gives a portion of the proceeds to participating farms.
To pay for Food School programs, participating schools have:
- asked parents to pay for The Food School programming
- held fundraisers at a whole school level to support many classes attending Food School programming over the school year
- written grant proposals to pay for associated Food School programming costs
- asked local businesses to sponsor a class program to The Food School
- used Wellness Funds to fund Food School programming
- teamed with the school’s PTO to fund programming
Please call Friends of Happy Heart’s Food School program at (970) 231-7203 to discuss innovative ways we can make a Food School program for your school possible.
What About Skills in the Kitchen?
What good is the story of food, if you don’t get to eat any of it? The Food School incorporates food preparation whenever and wherever we can; dependent upon farm and school facilities. If your school has a commercial kitchen, the curricular extensions are endless! We want to talk your ear off about integrating the kitchen into your programming. If not, no worries. We’ve made hummus in elementary school hallways, chopped salad greens in the field, and eaten fresh food just about everywhere.
When you call to schedule your Food School program, be sure to mention whether or not you have available kitchen space at your school.