Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, with support from the School Garden Support Organization (SGSO) Network, will host the first-ever, virtual garden-based learning event with lessons led by students from school garden sites from coast to coast on April 27 from 10 to 11 a.m. PT on growingschoolgardens.org. The event furthers the Sprouts Healthy Community Foundation’s commitment to advancing children’s nutrition education and is in honor of National Garden Month which was nationally declared by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2015.
“It is essential that we educate our children about establishing good nutrition and healthy eating habits early in life to lead to better, positive health outcomes later in life,” said Vilsack. “We need to expand and improve our outreach and education with a much greater focus on nutrition security, giving children and families tools to make healthy food choices because the food we eat affects our health throughout our lives. One of the most effective education tools we have with kids is gardens. When a child tastes food grown in a garden for the first time, it opens her eyes to new choices and can begin a nutrition journey that lasts a lifetime.”
The 45-minute virtual event, titled Growing School Gardens: Seeding a Healthy Future for Our Youth, will be taught through student voices and viewed by an estimated 500 elementary schools. Lessons will capture how school gardens are advancing nutrition and environmental literacy, STEM education, and social-emotional wellness.
“This event provides educators with classroom content and will increase awareness to the true value of garden-based education,” said John Fisher, co-founder of SGSO. “Teachers know it, and research shows it. School gardens increase children’s sense of responsibility to care for the environment; academic achievement and engagement; self-confidence and teamwork.”
Livestream activities kick off in Hawaii and culminate in Washington, D.C. Topics and locations include:
- Cultural Connections Between Plants, People, Food and Land hosted by Kokua Foundation at Waimea Middle Public Conversion Charter School in Waimea, Hawaii
- What a School Garden Means to Students hosted by Life Lab at Radcliff Elementary in Watsonville, Calif.
- Environmental Design in the School Garden hosted by University of Arizona’s Community & School Garden Program at Manzo Elementary in Tucson, Ariz.
- Unity Through Community hosted by Big Green at Lake Middle School in Denver
- Research Shows School Gardens Benefits hosted by the Department of Nutritional Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin and TX Sprouts Program in Austin, Texas
- Community and Youth Development hosted by Jones Valley Teaching Farm at Woodlawn High School in Birmingham, Ala.
- We Are Scientists in the Garden hosted by Out Teach at Whittier Elementary in Washington, D.C.
The event comes as many schools reopen for in-person classes. School gardens provide hubs for socially distanced learning, and places to help students reduce stress and anxiety.
“Throughout the pandemic, we all witnessed the enormous pressures put on students and educators, and school gardens helped to alleviate some of those pressures when leveraged appropriately. Additionally, school and community gardens can oftentimes be a source for emergency food assistance for communities experiencing food insecurity,” said Sprouts Healthy Communities Executive Director and SGSO Chair Member Lyndsey Waugh. “Now is the time to recognize how we support our nation’s youth with the resources to rebound and thrive, and we believe wholeheartedly that school gardens can play a tremendous role in this effort.”
Sprouts is the place where goodness grows. True to its farm-stand heritage, Sprouts offers a unique grocery experience featuring an open layout with fresh produce at the heart of the store. Sprouts inspires wellness naturally with a carefully curated assortment of better-for-you products paired with purpose-driven people. The healthy grocer continues to bring the latest in wholesome, innovative products made with lifestyle-friendly ingredients such as organic, plant-based and gluten-free. Headquartered in Phoenix, and one of the fastest-growing retailers in the country, Sprouts employs approximately 35,000 team members and operates more than 360 stores in 23 states nationwide.
Founded in 2015, the Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation aims to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, especially children, to live healthier lives. With a focus on nutrition education and fresh food access, our nonprofit partners teach children both how to grow and prepare fresh foods, as well as why such foods are important to their bodies. Knowing that kids who learn these lessons from a young age are more likely to grow up eating healthier food as adults, we reach children at every stage of development, providing hands-on learning and tasting of fresh fruits and vegetables as they grow. Sprouts Farmers Market covers all of the operational expenses of the Foundation, ensuring that every dollar raised goes directly to programming.
The School Garden Support Organization Network is made up of organizations and individuals that support school garden programs at a regional, school district, or state level. As a community, we value accessible, open communication that encourages collaboration, networking, and the cross-pollination of ideas that can lead to unexpected results and solutions. We thrive on transparency, mutual support, and open-source sharing, when possible. We intentionally seek ways to make our organization, resources, and the experience of school gardening accessible to all children, youth and communities.