In April, Captain Planet Foundation Learning Garden Manager, Kyla Van Deusen, attended the 7th National Farm to Cafeteria Conference in Austin, TX where more than 1,000 attendees spent a week learning best practices for Farm to School.
The day before the conference, Captain Planet Foundation joined forces with the National School Garden Network, the dream team of school garden support organizations from across the country, to host a pre-conference Summit for organizations who support multiple school gardens.
Kyla recently joined this group’s advisory committee and helped plan the sold-out Summit of 100 attendees from Georgia to Hawaii. These attendees are the forefront of the school garden upsurge, representing over 2,000 school gardens nationwide (Captain Planet represents almost 100 on its own!). This is a large percentage of the 3,473 school gardens reported in USDA’s 2012-2013’s Farm to School Census, all in one room!
The group took advantage of the collective experience and wisdom of the attendees to capture great innovations, like raising money for school gardens through a state specialty license plate, and also took some time to figure out the next best steps for this movement.
The National School Garden Network is a volunteer-based organization that hosts a forum and a website as well as facilitates national gatherings to further the school garden discourse. As a result of the feedback from the Austin gathering, a clear next step is to formalize the Network and add staff to increase its capacity to serve the school garden movement.
Captain Planet Foundation is excited to be a part of this leading edge as we figure out how to share the amazing resources that these school garden support organizations are generating. From garden-based curriculum linked to national standards, to revolutionary ideas for increasing access to healthy food in schools, we are on the cusp of a profound change in the way the world of education thinks about school gardens.