On display in the lunchroom of Lincoln Elementary Magnet School on Wednesday were some the items recently grown at the school’s teaching garden that was established earlier this year. The lunchs served there Wednesday contained some of the foods recently grown in the garden.
ALBANY, Ga. -- The cycle on a teaching garden sprouted at Lincoln Elementary Magnet School several weeks ago has come full circle with the harvesting and utilization of the products planted there.
The teaching garden was designed to function as a real-life laboratory that combines nutrition education with garden-based learning. Students learn how to plant seeds, nurture growing plants, harvest produce and ultimately understand the value of good eating habits.
The idea is based on studies indicating that participating in school gardening programs can improve students' attitudes about fruits and vegetables.
At lunch on Wednesday, the students at Lincoln who were served by the cafeteria's staff were fed beef chili mac with basil, sage and chives that had been grown in the garden. The cafeteria also served grilled chicken flavored with rosemary from the garden, and at least two types of lettuce used in their chef salads.
The project was first established as the American Heart Association and Phoebe Community Visions Teaching Garden on Feb. 28 as dirt was shoveled from Lincoln's courtyard and into plots, where the students were able to nurture them over the following weeks until the products were brought in from the garden late last week.
"This promotes a healthy lifestyle," said Angie Barber, director of Phoebe's Network of Trust. "In a way, it teaches children how to eat healthy.
"They have been able to be gardeners at their own school; now they get to eat from their own garden."
The garden, officials say, is the second such project established in Georgia.
Blaine Allen, director of child nutrition services for the Dougherty County School System, said that the garden serves as a practical method of defeating childhood obesity.
"It's the way of the future to introduce fruits and vegetables," he said. "... It is a continuing project, and we want to start it at other schools, too.
"(Developmentally), if we start teaching these things now, (students) will make healthier choices as adults."
Jill Cribbs, a kindergarten teacher at Lincoln who was instrumental in bringing the teaching garden to reality, said that cabbage and snowpeas were among the other items planted in the first cycle. At least two more cycles are planned for next year, including squash, zucchini, lettuce and possibly green beans to be grown in the fall.
The project is something the entire student body has been engaged in from the time the plots were formed to the day the plants were pulled out, coordinators of the garden say.
"The kids are great," Cribbs said. "They are very involved. They have been very anxious to go out and see how the plants did and watch them grow. They have learned that it is necessary to water the plants, and they have tasted all the stuff.
"All the children have invested and have participated. I think (the momentum) will be even more next year."
While it might not hit home right away, it appears the seeds have been planted for long-term change.
"There won't be a tremendous impact this second, but it will encourage them to try new things," Cribbs said.
The garden was funded through a grant from the American Heart Association and Phoebe Community Visions, and was created using Heart Association science and nutrition guidelines as well as information from gardening and education experts.