The Monterey County Farm to School Partnership is working to improve school lunches by promoting fresh produce sourced from local growers and by working with schools to implement healthy school food policies. The program supporting school garden- based education where children can obtain hands-on experience in growing their own vegetables, while meeting California State Content Standards. They also link schools to local farms and farmers through our Garden of Learning program.
The Garden of Learning, now in its fourth year, is a springtime program of the Monterey County Farm to School Partnership at the Watershed Institute, California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB). The organizing principle of the program is the exchange of information and services among schoolchildren, college students, and farmers. In school greenhouses, service-learning students from CSUMB and "Garden of Learning" staff help low-income Latino farmers teach schoolchildren how to plant and care for organic vegetable starts that are later transplanted to the farmers' fields. In exchange, the farmers conduct classroom visits where the schoolchildren learn about the influence of agro-ecosystems on watershed health and personal health and lead farm trips where the students learn about their food shed by maintaining, harvesting, and eating vegetables that they have helped to grow. The program has grown from a pilot project with one farmer and 20 children in one school during its first season to numerous farmers working with over 500 students in 8 schools producing approximately 100,000 vegetable starts over the course of 4 seasons.
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