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LAUSD challenges kids to get out and garden

September 25, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
If you've ever grown something like a basil or tomato plant, you know how rewarding it can be. But many local kids have little understanding about where their food comes from.

That's prompted the Los Angeles Unified School District to change that with a new contest that encourages kids to get out there and garden.

The second-graders at Westport Heights Elementary School are digging into a new kind of lesson.

"We've got amaranth here, we've got Jerusalem artichokes. The kids are planting carrots, spinach, fava beans," said teacher Carol Tripodo.

Tripodo says her kids are passionate about planting, so she wants to win LAUSD's Farm to School contest.

"Oh, when I saw that contest I couldn't sleep that night," said Tripodo. "I got up, I found it on the email and I couldn't wait to fill it out because we always need funds to help keep the garden going."

"There will be five schools chosen, five teachers chosen, and up to 60 kids of each of those schools will go on five different field trips," said LAUSD Food Services Director David Binkle.

They also win a $200 gift card for supplies. David Binkle says about half, around 350 LAUSD schools, have a working garden. But they want all students to make the farm-to-fork connection

"It's easy to throw seeds out here and walk away, but to keep it going year after year after year takes a lot of effort," said Tripodo.

"It teaches them composting, it teaches them to love planting and dirt," said mom Jana Taylor. "My kids love to go and help us plant in our garden."

Taylor says they even eat the carrots, broccoli and fava beans they harvest, another gardening bonus.

The teachers have to do a little homework of their own by submitting a photo of their schools' community garden and also up to a 500-word essay as to why their students should go to the field trip and learn.

"What it is is really a teaching moment, a lesson for the students to be able to get their hands dirty, to get in there and actually turn the dirt over and plant things and see things grow," said Binkle.

Entries must be in by October 11. Winners will be announced on Good Food Day on October 24.


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