We started spending less time outdoors and our exposure to nature started to diminish more than a hundred years ago, as the number of people required to produce our food fell off sharply. Somewhere along the way, the notion of kids exploring the woods or the creek near their homes gave way to the idea that it’s dangerous out there without close parental supervision. And then the trend toward indoor lives really accelerated in the last generation or so, with the explosion of hand-held digital entertainment, to the point that few kids today will ever build a fort in the vacant lot or a tree house out back.
A definitive straight-line cause-and-effect relationship between all of this and soaring incidence of childhood obesity, diabetes, asthma, depression and attention challenges may be tough to nail down. But research that just about shouts out, “Hey, you 21st century Americans enjoying the greatest material wealth the world has ever known, you’re putting yourself at risk with all that Continue reading
Potted strawberry plans await planing.
Fresh air lessens symptoms of both attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression, according to environmental psychologist Louise Chawla. And kids who spend time outdoors often develop better social skills, says Sarah Leibel, a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
These and other research findings make a great case for taking teaching and learning outdoors when possible, concludes the New York School Boards Association in its Study Break series https://soundcloud.com/user-308199334/go-ahead-fool-with-mother-nature-the-outdoors-is-an-effective-learning-tool, which provides quick audio suggestions to school leaders. And an Continue reading
The Vegetable Project wants to do much more at Myers Middle School than just dig in the dirt with kids. In fact, we propose building an outdoor classroom at the school to support a whole new dimension to teaching and learning.
The possibilities for such a development include amenities like these:
- A shaded seating area.
- A greenhouse.
- Handicapped accessibility.
- Vegetable garden beds.
- Fruit trees.
- Food preparation facilities.
- Native plants.
- Wildlife habitat.
We would like to tell you all about our thinking and planning that we have done thus far. We would like to show you a rendering of our initial ideas by Albany landscape designer Jason Schultz. Please join us if you can on Sunday, March 19, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., at the home of Julia Farrant, 38 Brookline Avenue in Albany, for food, friends and conversation.
Can’t make this gathering? Stay tuned. We’ll organize additional opportunities to learn about this exciting project.
With snowdrops pushing up through the white stuff around Albany, spring must be getting near. So it is time for many of us, and we hope for you, to start planning to produce spring-fresh tastes in your yard and to add color around Continue reading
We pulled up the last of our root vegetables last week – carrots, turnips and beets that we started from seed in late July and early August. But the Vegetable Project season is not nearly over (and really never is). For example, we will prepare some tasty dishes with these and more that we grew in the weeks ahead with our Myers Middle School Garden Club. And it is pretty safe Continue reading
Just a quick word here to say that you can contribute to the Vegetable Project over the next three months if you shop at the Honest Weight Food Co-op. As many of you probably know, the Co-op encourages shoppers to give to a variety of community organizations the five cents they receive for each reusable shopping bag they bring with them. Cashiers give shoppers an Envirotoken for each bag. And then shoppers can place the Envirotokens with designated community groups on their way out of the store. The Vegetable Project is currently one of the beneficiaries of the program.
Please look for the Vegetable Project in the Envirotoken display next time you shop at the Co-op. And thanks so much to the Co-op, Albany’s natural and organic food market, for ongoing support of our work to grow healthy children in Albany with our garden-based teaching and learning.
We started digging in the dirt at Myers Middle School in the fall of 2009. We have introduced hundreds and hundreds of kids to the tastes of fresh picked vegetables since then. We have created countless opportunities for hands-on teaching and learning in our afterschool Garden Club, in classrooms, with high school students working at summer jobs and more. We have gotten some of our produce out into the community, on the shelves of the Honest Weight Food Co-op and Cardona’s Market.
Still, we would love for so many more of our friends – those we know and those we have not yet met – to see what we have been up to lately. Won’t you please join us for an Evening in an EnchantedGarden on Wednesday Sept. 21, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. We will be offering garden tours and tastes and demonstrations. We’ll have music and a bit too eat!
We would love it as well if you would help us spread the word by sending the attached flier to your e-mail friends and a link to our Facebook event to your Facebook friends. https://www.facebook.com/events/1684769585179863/We are behind the school building, at 100 Elbel Court. With just a bit of luck, we’ll still have tomatoes on the vine. Hope to see you there.
— Bill Stoneman
Help wanted: Seeking a classroom teacher, or maybe two or three, maybe a science teacher or maybe a family and consumer science teacher, but maybe something else as well, to partner with the Vegetable Project in curating our gardens and school yards as a class project and an alternative approach to teaching and learning. More than just name plants, we Continue reading
A flashpoint of sorts in Michelle Obama’s push for healthy school lunches is a requirement since 2012 that schools make daily offerings of fruits and vegetables. The fine print plays out differently from one circumstance to another, but it mostly requires students to take fruits and vegetables on their trays. But then, as you might guess, huge portions of that healthy food go straight into the trash.
So one indignant camp scoffs at the requirements, formally issued by the U.S. Continue reading
What exactly drives us to build gardens at Albany schools and then lead kids out to them? Why would we bother with those time-consuming fundraising initiatives, like Boxtops for Education, and those time-consuming chores in the garden, like weeding and watering? What is the big deal about growing some of our own lettuce and tomatoes, when it’s so cheap in the supermarket?
For one thing, people who know something about where their food comes from are likely to make healthier choices about what they eat. And kids who help grow lettuce and tomatoes are so much more likely to taste them. We regularly see kids try greens right after proclaiming that they “never eat anything that grows in dirt.”
These explanations, however, just begin to get at the good that can come from Continue reading