FoodCorps Service Member Profile: Leah Kelley

Project Learning Garden schools Leah worked with:
Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy middle school, APS
Crawford Long Middle APS
Grove Park Elementary, APS

What is your motivation to work with school gardens?
Understanding the struggle children face when lacking adequate nutrition or craving the junk food that advertisements surround them with, Leah is inspired by the success stories—cafeterias moving toward fresher recipes, a child discovering how delicious broccoli tastes fresh from the garden. She witnessed firsthand the value of gardens through her service with the Youth Service Corps program in Lansing, MI, where children contributed to improving healthy food access in their communities, building garden boxes, distributing fruit from area fruit trees, and maintaining a public edible garden. As a school gardening coordinator at World Hunger Relief Inc., Leah worked to continue her own education as she taught others, taking classes on topics as varied as soil microbiology and community organizing.

Favorite quote from student or teacher:
“I just want to live in the soil.”

Favorite veggie and why:
Beets because they are sweet, fun to draw with, and good for your blood!

Advice to anyone teaching in a garden:
Start simple! Begin with garden journals and observations. The garden ecosystem has a lot to teach us and our students are often excited to observe. Also, start with growing what you love. Your passion for growing will translate to the students!

Your favorite garden activity or recipe:
Planting seeds or plant starts is always a lot of fun and brings a lot of hope and joy to students. Likewise, any recipe that the students get to make with veggies harvested from the garden is a fun connection from soil to plate!