Officials with what’s called the People’s Garden school pilot project toured 17 locations across Iowa this week, where schoolhouse gardens are being created as a way to improve nutrition and tackle childhood obesity. One stop was the garden at Sunset Heights Elementary School in Webster City.
Janet Toering, with the Iowa State University Extension, complimented the students’ efforts and says there are multiple goals.
“We’re looking at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, more physical activities, getting kids outdoors, increasing their STEM skills, science, technology, engineering and math, in the classrooms with lessons, outdoors with gardening and healthy snacks.”
Students in three other states are taking part in the pilot project: Washington, New York and Arkansas. The eventual goal is to go nationwide with the program. Brad Gaolach is director of the Washington State University Extension Service, based in Tacoma. Gaolach says he likes what he’s seeing in Iowa.
“We’ve got raised beds planted and stuff growing so it’s looking like a great start to this pilot project,” Gaolach says. “As I’ve seen in other schools, clearly it looks like the teachers and the principals and everybody’s very engaged in this program.” A total of three-thousand Iowa elementary students are participating in the school garden project.
Schools taking part are in the following communities and counties: Lenox, Taylor County; East Union, Afton, Union County; Mt. Ayr, Ringgold County; Clarke, Osceola, Clarke County; West Liberty, Muscatine County; Madison, Muscatine, Muscatine County; Dunkerton, Black Hawk County; Eldora New Providence, Hardin County; Webster City, Hamilton County; Walnut Grove, Council Bluffs, West Pottawattamie; Rue, Council Bluffs, West Pottawattamie County; Hunt, Sioux City, Woodbury County; Hiawatha, Cedar Rapids, Linn County; Mark Twain, Iowa City, Johnson County; Kittrell, Waterloo, Black Hawk County; Lowell, Waterloo, Black Hawk County; Poyner, Evansdale, Black Hawk County.
Learn more at: www.extension.iastate.edu/growinginthegarden
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City