Sowing the Seeds of Food Education
Planting Seeds for the Future at Minot Forest Elementary
In the winning entry from our Facebook video competition, four students from Minot Forest Elementary School bring their assistant principal a delicious lunchtime meal made from salad veggies pulled right from their Garden Tower™ 2 Vertical Gardening System — complete with an entire bottle of ranch, of course!
“We had so much fun filming,” says Lisa Ottaviano, the guidance counselor at Minot Forest Elementary. “It was hard for our actors to return to class!”
Ottaviano’s plans to introduce her students to gardening and nutrition began with a grant that helped the school purchase the Garden Tower™ 2 Vertical Gardening System. Once the vegetables began to grow, the students were hooked! “I brought students outside during lunch to see the Garden Tower™ 2 and to sample greens,” says Ottaviano. “Almost all students were willing to sample and shockingly some had never tried lettuce or spinach before.”
The students help take care of the plants by spinning and watering the Garden Tower™ 2 Vertical Gardening System. Surprisingly, taking care of the school garden has become a most effective tool for counseling as well as nutrition education. Often, students who come to see the guidance counselor are too upset to talk right away. But within minutes of visiting the Garden Tower™ 2 to water the plants, students calm down enough for Ottaviano to help them. “Once calm,” she says, “we can process through what upset them and they can return to class.”
Since the Garden Tower™ became a fixture at the school, Ottaviano’s students have had the opportunity to get their hands dirty — literally! — while learning about nutrition. They’ve grown spinach, mache, and other hardy greens, and even scored a few new students! “The biggest surprise so far,” says Ottaviano, “was when we returned from summer vacation to discover full-size ground cherry plants that grew from ‘volunteer’ seeds in the compost — and finding a toad had taken up residence!”
Even during an unusually cold winter, the Garden Tower™ remains an impressive classroom tool. “I am currently experimenting with cold hardy greens for winter gardening,” says Ottaviano. “I am also planning to grow edible flowers this spring, like calendula and cosmos. Minot Forest loves the Garden Tower™!”
For the students at Minot Forest Elementary, the Garden Tower™ has helped plant the seeds for a future full of nutrition education, leafy greens, and very lucky toads. What do you have growing in your Garden Tower™?