School community gardens are a great way for students to learn science and health lessons; unfortunately, many schools cannot afford to provide such services to our kids. Veggie U, a non-profit, has the solution. They supply classrooms across the country with garden kits and a five-week science program to teach our kids the importance of gardening.
How was Veggie U created?
Veggie U was co-founded by Bob Jones and his wife Barb. Bob Jones has been in the farming business for more than 50 years. It was their vision to encourage children to be more curious about where their food comes from, the work that goes into growing their food, and how their food affects their health. So, in the spring of 2003 they and a group of educators, nutritionists, chefs, and a local physician “donated 18 months of their time and talents to create a curriculum known as ‘Earth to Table.’”
“Earth to Table” is a curriculum that’s available for elementary and special needs students. Each participating class gets a garden kit with “seeds, soil, flats, root view boxes, grow lights, and a worm farm as well as an 25-lesson curriculum to help the teacher and an instructional DVD.” The curriculum is designed to meet fourth grade science standards. The kids get hands on experience and learn how to grow, harvest, and prepare the plants.
Veggie U also offers further materials for the kids, teachers, and parents. On the Veggie U website, teachers can find testimonials and ideas for the classroom. Parents can find recipe suggestions and gardening tips and crafts on the Veggie U website. Veggie U also believes that gardening can impact other important skills for students like language arts. So, they have a list of reading recommendations. They also recommend fun online games for kids like Veggie Puzzle, Veggie Match, and Lunch Crunch.
Located in Milan, Ohio, Veggie U has reached thousands of classrooms across the nation. The Veggie U program is being taught in more than 2,600 classrooms in 31 states and Washington D.C. Their goal is to have the “Earth to Table” program in all 93,000 fourth grade classrooms in the country. This will definitely be beneficial from a health standpoint. More than one third of American children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Programs like this can educate kids and help them make healthy choices.
Veggie U is a non-profit. It costs $450 to host the Veggie U program in a classroom and $225 per year to continue to sustain it. Fortunately, Veggie U is run by donations and corporate sponsorships. You can learn more about making a donation or volunteering with Veggie U here.