A third grade teacher at La Ballona Elementary School recently reported parents asking, “What are you teaching about nutrition?” The parents said their children had been reading ingredient lists and asking to eat fruits and vegetables.
At El Rincon parents found their kids suddenly eager to try lettuce and carrots at home. One student informed his mother that he’d been to a salad party and that he liked lettuce now. His mom took him directly to the grocery store so that he could show her which type of lettuce he wanted, and she bought it that very day. Her son has been eating salads ever since.
Similar reports have been coming in from El Marino, Farragut and Linwood E Howe ever since the Culver City Education Foundation (CCEF) brought the Growing Great Garden and Nutrition program to all CCUSD elementary schools.
A lot of our students had never planted a seed until they did it in their school gardens. “You could see the ownership they felt over their plants and the garden boxes as the plants began to grow,” said El Rincon parent and garden volunteer Terra Kuroda. “And at harvest time they were so excited to harvest and eat their very own vegetables,” she continued. “Just today I had a student tell me he had visited the garden with his class to check on the progress. He explained to me how much everything had grown and then asked excitedly when the next harvest would be.”
Many students say that their first school garden harvest was the first time they tried salad. A few students would not try the salad until they saw their classmates eat it and heard them talk about how good it was and ask for more. When they finally did try it, they discovered that they liked it too. There was not one lettuce leaf left in any of La Ballona’s classes after the last harvest.
CCEF continues to support the Growing Great Garden and Nutrition Program and the elementary school gardens thanks to grants from the Fineshriber Family Foundation and gifts from Akasha Restaurant and other community members. The day-to-day workings of the program are carried out by parent volunteers who work in the garden, show the children how to plant, tend and harvest their crops and teach nutrition lessons according to Growing Great lesson plans.
“Seeing the students’ responses has been such a rewarding experience for me personally,” Kuroda told CCEF. “I’m amazed at all the educational possibilities that can occur in a garden. Through the [Growing] Great Curriculum and just having the students in the garden [conversations have started] about healthy eating, water conservation, math, wildlife and composting, just to name a few.”
Bringing Growing Great to our Culver City schools is just one of the ways CCEF has been providing our CCUSD students with opportunities to grow creatively, intellectually and physically. For over 30 years CCEF has been funding programs, technology, academic support and equipment that help our Culver City students achieve at school and in life. We know that connecting young people to the joys of learning and discovery will give them the means to succeed in school and to thrive long after they graduate from Culver High.
To continue enriching our students’ education in the decades to come, we need your help. Join CCEF in supporting our students and our schools by visiting www.ccef90230.org and making a donation or by simply sending a check to CCEF, P.O. Box 4178, Culver City, CA 90230-4178. You’ll be glad you did.