Tag Archives: school garden

What’s the Scoop on School Gardens?

School gardens establish a learning environment that allow both children and plants to grow…and the kids seriously dig it.  Throughout the gardening season, children learn through hands-on activities like planting, watering, weeding, harvesting and finally, tasting!  In fact, school gardens actually increase consumption of fruits and vegetables among children.  Since children are in the garden helping the plants to grow, they develop a sense of pride and ownership for the produce which makes them more likely to try the fruits and vegetables that they cared for.  The eating habits they develop in the garden are also more likely to grow and continue into adulthood.  Not only does a school garden increase consumption of fresh produce, but they also promote healthy lifestyles by decreasing sedentary behavior.

There are all kinds of garden activities that get the students up and active!  Rather than sitting in a classroom they can be out and about in the garden measuring the plants, counting seeds, hunting for insects, identifying plant parts, and much more.  Gardens can be used to teach concepts from just about any subject from science and nutrition to art and math!

Along with giving the children a “living classroom” school gardens also bring the community together.  Teachers, students, parents and community volunteers can work together in the garden which helps to build the children’s social skills and self-esteem.  Additionally, the community members can lead healthier lifestyles by staying active in the garden and trying the nutritious produce themselves.

Some school gardens even take the initiative to donate the produce to local food pantries.  For example, the UW-Whitewater Campus Garden is hoping to donate 2,000 pounds of fresh produce this year to the Whitewater Food Pantry.  If you’d like to help, stop by the Campus Garden located between the Ambrose Health Center and the Campus Bookstore on Starin Road.  Summer volunteer times are Mondays 3-6pm, Tuesdays 3-6pm, Wednesdays 9-11am, and Thursdays 10am-1pm.  You can also get involved with the Garden Gatherings at the Lincoln Growing and Learning Garden anytime between 4-6pm on Mondays throughout the summer, all are welcome!

Interested in helping out even more?  There are currently two part-time Wisconsin AmeriCorps Farm to School positions open.  Fort HealthCare is looking for a community outreach coordinator and a nutrition educator.  The community outreach coordinator will work with the Healthy Community Coalitions as well as working to educate food service directors on local and nutritious food choices.  The nutrition educator position focuses on implementing nutrition programs to teach children about establishing healthy eating habits.  Both positions will be involved in the Eat Here Eat Well coalition. Applications are due at 5pm on July 20, 2018.  Visit https://www.forthealthcare.com/farmtoschool/ for more info and to apply.

Gearing Up for Garden Season

As we head into the sixth season at the Campus Garden we reflect back on our mission to serve the Whitewater Food Pantry with fresh, organic produce, as well as to educate the campus and community about the benefits of organic gardening. A majority of the produce grown gets donated weekly to the local food pantry. To date we have donated over 5,000 pounds of produce; with roughly 1,400 pounds donated last year and 1,700 pounds donated in 2016. By adding a small orchard with a wide variety of fruit trees, we hope to reach the goal of donating 2,000 pounds of fresh produce per year.

A variety of fruit trees were added to the Campus Garden during Earth Week events with Honors Program students in 2016.

Updates from the Garden Manager

As the weather gets warmer and the spring season approaches, activity in the Upham Greenhouse and the Campus Garden is rapidly increasing. The seedlings planted in early March (onions, leeks, kale, cauliflower, and broccoli) are craving the outdoors, awaiting the early planting sessions. The daily indoor watering and care of tomatoes, peppers, beets, chard, herbs, and brassicas will soon be replaced by the natural water cycle and some irrigation in the garden. Soon, we will be planting the seeds of cucurbits (cucumbers, melons, and squash). After some bed prepping, edging, and maintenance, all the seedlings will be ready to be planted throughout the month of May. This is a yearly routine with a strict schedule.

Though the schedule is demanding, we are introducing some new additions to the garden with inspiration from permaculture design. Our orchard is becoming much vaster with a wide variety of fruit trees and exotic shrubs. From native elderberry to plum trees, the diversity within the Campus Garden is growing each season.

This time of year, the amount of work needed outdoors is accumulating. We aim to plant crops outdoors in early May, and the full planting will take place after the last average frost date in late May.  Volunteer hours continue from May through late October or early November, depending on first frost.

Visiting Honors Program students planting beet seeds.
Honors students helping transplant basil.
Pepper seedlings growing strong in the Upham Greenhouse.

How to Get Involved

The best way for you to support the Campus Garden is to volunteer your time and energy by joining us for the work needed to keep up with the garden. Gardening tasks that regularly need our attention include bed prep/turning, weeding, watering, seeding/planting, harvesting, transplanting, cleaning/sanitizing, and more. Without the helping hands of our volunteers, we would not have the time available to maintain the garden and keep it going, so any and all help is greatly appreciated!

All skill levels are welcome.  Tools and gloves are provided, but we recommend any experienced gardener to bring your tools you are most comfortable using (and maybe show us how you do it)!  Volunteer hours are tracked for reporting to a number of different organizations that require them.

Upcoming Events

Join us at the Campus Garden, located between the Moraine Bookstore and Ambrose Health Center on Starin Road (764 W. Starin Road, Whitewater, WI 53190).

Planting Party

  • Lend a hand planing tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons, squash, peas, beans, radishes, greens, carrots, and herbs! Check out our Facebook event for more information.
  • Tuesday, May 29 from 3 – 7 PM

Volunteer Sessions (May)

  • Tuesdays: 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM
  • Thursdays:  2:00 PM – 4:00 PM
  • Fridays:  10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Volunteer Sessions (June – August)

  • Mondays 3-6 PM
  • Tuesdays 3-6 PM (Harvesting!)
  • Wednesdays 9-11 AM
  • Thursdays 10 AM-1 PM
UWW Campus Garden on a sunny August day.