(Vacaville, CA) Slow Food Solano has awarded a record $7,580 to support 28 school gardens in Solano County.
This is the tenth year that Slow Food Solano has awarded garden grants. The average grant is for $300. It allows teachers to buy seeds, plants, irrigation materials, shovels, gloves and other materials and supplies needed.
Teachers in elementary, middle and high schools across the County devote their time and effort to growing a garden. This year, 11 more grants were awarded than last year and 13 new applicants submitted applications.
Slow Food Solano Garden Grant Coordinator Carla Elvidge praised the commitment of the teachers who add the labor-intensive activity of growing a garden to their already challenging academic day.
She also thanked Mary Bourguignon, who has served as Slow Food’s grant coordinator for the first nine years of supporting school gardens, for her many years of service to develop and expand the program.
Awards were made to 9 programs in Vacaville, 12 in Vallejo, 4 in Benicia and 3 in Fairfield. The average award was for $300. An award was made to every applicant!
The Benicia grants were made to teachers at Joe Henderson Elementary School, Liberty High School, and two to Mary Farmar Elementary School (the main school and the kindergarten).
The Fairfield grants went to teachers at Suisun Valley Elementary School, Oakbrook Elementary School and Vanden High School.
The Vacaville grants were made to teachers at ACE Charter School, Alamo Elementary School, Browns Valley Elementary School, Buckingham Charter School, Cambridge Elementary School, the Child Start Inc-Head Start program, Cooper Elementary School, Edwin Markham Elementary School, and Orchard Elementary School.
Vallejo recipient schools included Annie Pennycook Elementary School, Everest Academy (middle school), Grace Patterson Elementary School, Highland Elementary School, John Finney High School, Lincoln Elementary School, Loma Vista Environmental Science Academy (both 3rd graders and the 4-8 grade youth leadership team), MIT Academy of Technology (high school), St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School, Steffan Manor Elementary School, and Vallejo Charter School (middle school).
Elvidge also thanked the school districts and the teacher unions’ leaders for getting the word out to teachers about the availability of these grants. “It has made a huge difference in the number of teacher who applied this year,” she says.
Each school has a unique project and a unique story to tell about their experience.
Grant recipients range from the 18-year old program at Alamo Elementary School in Vacaville to a brand new program at Highland Elementary School in Vallejo where second graders will plant and tend a seed in a cup. At Alamo, signs in the garden bar tell what food was grown and its health benefits. Curriculum lessons include life cycles of plants and insects.
The second graders at Highland will experience first-hand the life-cycle of a plant and will learn about growing nutritious food and accepting responsibility.
At John Finney High School in Vallejo, students in an after-school program called “the Change” maintain the garden. They have a focus on charity and donate many of the vegetables they grow to provide hot meals for the homeless once a week. They, like a few of the other schools, have a Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) program certified by Solano County.
The teacher at Oakbrook Elementary School in Fairfield, which has also had a garden for many years, reported, “We are grateful for the continued support of Slow Food Solano as our educational environment has become increasingly technological.”
At Mary Farmar Elementary in Benicia, class visits to the garden enhance curriculum, such as studying plant cells and the geosphere, math (percents), planting root vegetables for Borscht soup (history of Fort Ross and Russian immigrants).
Slow Food Solano is a local chapter of the non-profit Slow Food USA, whose goal is to help create and sustain a food system that is good, clean and fair. All money raised goes to support the School grant program. Individuals wishing to support school gardens with a tax-deductible contribution may donate online at www.slowfoodsolano.org.
Carla Elvidge, Slow Food Solano Garden Grant Coordinator
Marilyn Farley, Slow Food Solano Garden Grant Assistant