At Congress Elementary School, third graders are learning how to grow their own food. Some of the kids live in areas where the grocery shopping is done in gas stations and convenience stores because grocery stores are too far away. Many of them have never even seen food grow before. In the past, when farming was much more a way of life in America, it would be absurd to think a nine-year-old child didn't know the growing seasons or how to plant a seed. Gardening wasn't taught in schools because it wasn't necessary. But today, how could a child know that tomatoes are best in mid-summer when tomatoes are provided year round at the grocery store, shipped in from thousands of miles away? Or that salad doesn't actually come from a bag?
It's becoming increasingly necessary for schools to incorporate food education starting at the beginning: with a seed. Brewery Vivant has partnered with Congress Elementary, sending their farm director and head chef into the classroom to teach the kids about gardening and cooking. Kids learn everything from seeds and dirt, to germination, and eventually how to incorporate the vegetables they planted into their cooking. They get to see their food go through its entire life cycle, and they get to take vegetables home with them as well. The hope is that the lessons learned in the classroom will transfer to the home as well. That kids will go to the grocery store or restaurant with their parents and be able to help their parents make more informed decisions.
The garden at Congress started with a $5,000 donation from the Cornelius Kos family and a lot of help from East Hills Council of Neighbors. The community has been very supportive of the garden, and the school has allowed area residents to use the school's land for planting their own food. Community and school working together is always good and could help expand the program. If the community continues its involvement, this program could become something much bigger.