ACGC Students Cultivating Knowledge & Eating It Too!

ACGC Students Cultivating Knowledge & Eating It Too!

Thu 15 Nov 2012

Story by Tami Bennett-Tait

Kid at lunch says, “What is this on my plate?” “It’s a baked potato.”, replied the lunch supervisor. “How do I eat it, like an apple?”

Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (ACGC) Public Schools planted a school garden in 2010 initiated by School Staff and the Minnesota’s Statewide Health Improvement Program. Students involved in the Youth Energy Summit (YES!) and Future Farmers of America (FFA) were the frontiers in planting, caring for, and harvesting the garden with the purpose of providing healthy lunch choices at school.

Who is Involved and What is Grown?

Community support for the ACGC school garden ranges from 3 year olds through to 63 year olds! Local programs and public health initiatives including local clubs, the Ministerial Association, Statewide Health Improvement program and local farmers’ market all support the school garden. And within the school itself, the Education Association, School Board and Administration are students all back the program too. All in all, at least 500 hours per year are donated to the progam by volunteers.

Potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, onions, squash, tomatoes, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, eggplant, beets, kohlrabi have all been planted in the garden, and amazingly the harvest is upwards of 2,000 pounds each year, almost reaching 3,000 pounds in 2011!

Educational and Classroom Application

• 4th grade Math & Science Students measure the length of cucumbers, circumference of potatoes, and mass of beets. After the produce is measured all produce is weighed, washed, and brought to the school’s refrigerator to be prepared for future lunches.

• 5th grade Math students select, pull, and then measure the length of a carrot. The measures collected are compiled then the range, mean, median, and mode of carrots lengths are calculated. Students savor the freshness of their carrot on their walk back into the classroom.

• 7th grade Life Science Students perform a population density study of carrots in the garden. Carrots are washed and brought to food services; however some carrots never make it to food services taking a different path into 7th graders mouths!

• Additional classes have used produce to make “Eggplant” Pizza and Salsa in addition to sampling fresh produce and a Natural Habitats class was created to help manage the garden; this followed two years of having a student garden produce manager.

Health Awareness

Nutritional banners, about fresh wholesome foods grown in the garden have been created and hung in the commons for student and staff to read and students sample produce in classes as well as enjoying it for lunch. Public Health provided educational healthy food sessions with Elementary Students.


In order to make the ACGC garden project sustainable, small amounts of produce are sold to cover costs of seeds yearly and grants have been utilized to purchase tools as well as build a garden shed. The helping hands of many students provide the capability of planting and harvesting during the growing year. In addition to our school garden, twenty apple trees were planted to start our small orchard!

Red potatoes oh so fine, boiled or baked they’re all mine.
Orange carrots are so sweet, raw and fresh Calvin’s treat.
Yellow colors have been few, many red, green, & purple, no blue.
Green cucumbers for the salad bar, melons were Miriam’s favorite by far.
Blueberries tasty, so it seems; wait that is Tilia’s dream.
Indigo kohlrabi grew too big; some plants were hard to dig.
Violet and purple shined so bright, purple peppers were a great sight.

About the author: Tami Bennett-Tait is a Math/Science Teacher & YES! Coach. The ACGC YES! Team is a group of students who initiate as well as action plan to solve school and community issues to improve our environment through energy awareness & reduction, waste reduction & composting, locally grown foods, transportation reduction, and educating youth.


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