Planting the Seeds of Lifelong Wellness
School gardens provide the chance for students, teachers, and community members of all ages to get hands-on experience growing and learning about food in a dynamic educational setting. TOCA currently maintains school gardens at Indian Oasis Elementary and Baboquivari Middle School. We work with culture teachers, parent liaisons, and other school faculty and administration at both schools to connect students to their agricultural history, encourage healthier eating habits, and cultivate an appreciation for the earth and its bounty.
For the past two years, TOCA staff and students have planted a variety of O'odham crops and non-traditional vegetables in the 1300 sq-foot elementary school garden. The foods we grow are shared with students, given away to elders, and used in culture classes. TOCA staff works in collaboration with the Extended Day Program at the school and
has developed a year-long gardening, food, and cooking class for K-2 students. In these classes, we teach health and wellness in a multifaceted manner. In addition to learning how to plant, care for, and harvest fruits and vegetables in the garden, students cook in the classroom, learn traditional stories, songs, and sports, get to meet O’odham farmers, and receive nutrition education. We also work with individual classes and give students access to the garden during their recess time and after-school events.
At Baboquivari Middle School, we integrate the garden into lessons taught in culture classes. Students learn important O'odham life values through outdoor garden work, like s-wa:gima (industriousness and productivity), caring for the land, and taking responsibility for other living things. Students work together to create their own crop lists, plant, water, and maintain the garden. Giving students ownership over the garden space keeps them active and interested, and develops a work ethic and appreciation for growing healthy food that we hope will follow them through their adolescence and into adulthood.
Map/Resources from NMAI:
Actual Full color PDF of Poster: http://nmai.si.edu/sites/1/files/pdf/education/thanksgiving_poster.pdf