The goal of Slow Food Miami’s Edible Garden Program is to create student–centered organic vegetable gardens and to introduce students to the pleasures of good, clean food and to teach basic garden skills. With the combination of a garden grant, installation support, school incorporated curriculums and volunteer follow up, Slow Food Miami seeks to develop improved nutritional practices, plant-to-food awareness, and an understanding of sustainable environmental processes.
The edible school program is an effort to address childhood nutrition issues such as malnutrition and obesity and encourages a healthy, respectful attitude towards food. In addition, garden centered programs on a school campus affect the school habitat by changing the landscape of schools which often lack interactive and healthful environments specific to South Florida.
Public and Private, Pre-K, Elementary, middle and high schools in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Slow Food Miami began its school garden program in 2007. At that time, Slow Food Miami gave six schools the materials, expertise and assistance to install and care for organic gardens using the Square Foot Gardening Method. The program is modeled after the work of Alice Waters in Berkeley, California. Alice Waters, a leader of the Slow Food movement in the United States built an Edible School Yard at a local school and started the initiative ”Plant a Thousand Gardens”. As of 2010 Slow Food Miami funded 41 School Gardens in public and private schools across Dade County, and two community gardens. Funding for the School Garden program comes directly from local food events, individual donors and corporate sponsors.
The garden-to-table approach modeled by Slow Food Miami is a unique program to address childhood nutritional issues and obesity. It goes beyond standard nutrition lessons by offering experiential learning in the garden and tasting guidance and support to help children learn healthier eating habits. Our edible gardens have been interpreted and implemented in each school in a variety of ways. This program is flexible, and it is the desire of Slow Food Miami for teachers, staff, PTAs and students to have a fun and an enjoyable experience while undertaking a tasting journey.
Plantings begin in early October and gardens are maintained through the end of May. The method of Square foot gardening proves to be the most efficient and offers the most structure for maintaining a garden. Slow Food Miami uses greenheart wood raised bed for the gardens to provide a weather resistant, sustainable, portable, and easily-drained growing bed. A combination of seeds, starts, and organic soil is recommended. We also encourage the importance of recycling, water conservation and the use of compost. Slow Food provides planting day support and follow up as well as consulting as needed throughout the entire planting season.
The PTA, or other parent driven groups are essential for the success of the gardens. In our experience, the most successful school gardens have thrived when parents and students are engaged in garden activities. PTA’s provide support by helping with maintenance, extracurricular activities as well as financial support. We encourage the development of other resources such as the PTA, local businesses and providers to expand your efforts. It is our vision that the gardens will be developed and maintained year after year.
In order to foster edible food gardens, Slow Food Miami is making available mini-grants for the 2012-2013 school year to allow selected Miami-Dade schools to start school garden programs.
- There must be a suitable location with at least 5 hours of sunlight for a garden, approved by Slow Food Miami representative. At water source must be located at the garden site.
- The garden must be planted and garden-related activities conducted during the 2012-2013 school year.
- At least two classrooms should be actively engaged with the school garden.
- There must be 2 designated teachers with administrative and PTA support for the creation and maintenance of the garden.
- There must be an adequate maintenance plan to tend the garden during school breaks.
- The garden must be organic and consist of at least four to eight distinct vegetables. At least four vegetables must be started from seeds, and some heritage varieties are encouraged.
- There must be plans for connecting garden activities to classroom discussions about the origin of food, plant life cycles, sound nutrition, and environmental implications. Language Arts and Art are also encouraged.
- An interim report with photos of the garden is required by mid-season.
- There must be plans to use the herbs and vegetables in taste workshops and as the basis for at least one meal. The students are to be involved in preparing a meal that is delicious, nutritious, which employs seasonal dishes made from food they have grown. We recommend raw tastings on a regular basis as the garden grows.
- There must be plans to bring the cafeteria staff into the garden process as they are essential in the use and preparation of some of the harvested food. The cafeteria staff should be permitted to use some garden ingredients such as herbs and vegetables that are available for tastings. In this way the produce from the garden can be shared with the entire student body.
HOW TO APPLY
We are so grateful for the enormous interest for the 2012-13 Season! We have reached capacity and are currently no longer accepting applications for the 2012-13 planting season. Please consider applying for next Fall! You can apply all year, just please note your request for 2013-14 Season. Thank you for your interest and support! (posted 10.3.12)