Green Our Planet, a non-profit based in Las Vegas that helps to build school gardens to educate students on the importance of food, agriculture and sustainability has recently completed its 100th school garden. By May it will become the largest School Garden Program in the United States. This is an amazing achievement considering the project only started in 2013.
“We began in 2013 with the idea of trying to launch a city-wide school garden movement,” said Ciara Byrne, Co-Director of Green Our Planet. “But at the time, we had no idea whatsoever if that would be possible or not. I think the movement has definitely taken off,” she said, “but only because a large number of teachers, principals, parents, students, corporations, sponsors, partners, volunteers, and the community has come together to make it happen.
Now they have 50-60 schools on the waiting list at any one time and are aiming to build a garden every Saturday from now until July. In the Clark County School District there are currently 150 School Gardens in place.
Why is it so important?
There are numerous benefits to implementing gardens into our schools. They can offer a holistic approach towards education. Using them as a resource to teach STEM subjects, nutrition and health. All skills that are crucial for future employment and to live a full and vibrant life.
Crucially they can teach students about the importance of sustainability. The impact of agriculture on the land, water conservation and how to choose the right things to plant. Topics critical in any forward thinking, sustainable society, and essential in tackling climate change
Building on this holistic approach Green Our Planet has introduced a chef-to-school program and the Zion Garden Park, a community garden has announced a series of chef demonstrations. Chefs offer demonstrations at schools in how to cook healthy and nutritious meals from produce grown in a school garden. Taking advantage of the numerous amazing restaurants and catering professional situated in Las Vegas.
This has been taken a step further with the introduction of Farmers Markets from which students can learn about business. Zappos and Green Our Planet are teaming up for the largest student led farmers market in the United States. With the event taking place May 4th (check our events page). This shows students the whole process. How food is grown, cultivated, transported, sold and prepared in health and nutritious ways.
There are even benefits to individual’s mental health and wellbeing. In her talk at Convene for Green 2017 Amber Boskett, Project Manager of the Zion Garden Park, stated how some of the children had referred to the garden as “the place they come to escape” and “a happy place”. This idea of a green space being beneficial to individuals mentally is backed up numerous pieces of academic research. Highlighting the importance for children and adults alike to be involved with nature.
The rise in School and Community Gardens is both exciting and essential for our future. Through fun, engaging and social project installations stems a valuable education for future and present generations. Helping us increase sustainability, improve mental and physical wellbeing, develop a practical understanding of STEM subjects and improve collaboration between all members of society. Plus we all get to enjoy amazing fresh food grown on our doorstep!
Both Green Our Planet and the Zion Garden Park are constantly seeking eager volunteers from across the community to participate and support their projects. Further information can be found on their websites below. We also have a list of upcoming events here.
Green Our Planet: http://www.greenourplanet.org/
Zion Garden Park: http://www.cdsn.org/how_to_manage_a_community_garden.aspx
Credit Green Our Planet and CDSN for the images