The students help tend the gardens, while learning about nutrition, agriculture, ecology, composting and water management.
“They’re all edible gardens with a smattering of flowers,” Jersky said. “We want to make sure they’re drought-resistant and attracting beneficial birds and insects. They have compost bins appropriate for the school size, so the kids can learn about waste reduction and decomposition. And then drip irrigation, to make sure that things are drought tolerant and water efficient.”
Students will also participate in projects that help them understand those concepts, Jersky said.
“Every school also gets access to our curriculum, which aligns with common core,” he said. “Our curriculum is project-based, which allows them to take the garden into the classroom or vice versa.”
For instance, students can create miniature compost bins out of soda bottles, fill them with items ranging from apple shavings to plastic pieces, and test the differing rates at which they decompose.
A garden and corresponding school program costs about $4,000 to start up. Healthy Planet pays for that according to a sliding scale based on the number of students on free and reduced lunch programs, Jersky said. Schools contribute the balance, but must chip in at least 25 percent of the cost, in order to establish their commitment to the garden program.
*Addendum by Healthy Planet:
A huge thanks to our partners: Eartheasy, Grangettos Farm & Garden Supply, Hawthorn Feed Store, San Pasqual Valley Soils, DIG Corporation, Lowe’s, Woolly Pocket, Tarter Farm & Ranch Equipment, and WTT Transportation.