Free farmers market at Project Learning Garden school creates parent and community engagement

Captain Planet Foundation FoodCorps service member, Summer Ladd explains her new initiative at a Project Learning Garden school:

I’m hosting a “free farmers market” at Clarkdale Elementary twice a week in the afternoon, where families of the school can stop by anytime between 3-6pm to pick up garden produce to take home. The families and school custodians who came by to get produce were really excited about all of the fresh veggies! They discovered some things they said they normally wouldn’t buy in the grocery store, such as eggplant, and I gave them suggestions for how to cook everything.

I’m excited to have finally tapped into the “parent engagement” piece of my service plan, which I struggled with all school year, and find good use of the garden produce during the summer! I think this will be a great way to connect parents to the school garden so students can take home the healthy lessons they’re learning at school, and may even open the door for some parent volunteer opportunities. Since I rarely see students during the summer, this project has made my summer service feel meaningful and impactful.

School custodians stopped by as well and they were telling me that they like to walk through the garden to check on things, so they were excited to get to take some of that produce home. One custodian told me he was excited to see the eggplants growing and brought another custodian out one day to show her the eggplant. Another told me he eats raw garlic everyday for his high blood pressure, so he was excited to take home handfuls of garlic! I’ve gotten to know them all school year and they’ve always been so kind and helpful to me, and always ask me how the garden is doing. They work so hard all year, and especially during the summer to get ready for the next school year, so I’m glad we can show our appreciation and love for them with veggies! One of my service plan goals was to integrate the school garden into the school community and culture, and based on positive interactions with teachers and school staff, and now parents, I believe that goal has been achieved!