Art Simon is the greenhouse manager of the Dunwoody Community Garden at Brook Run Park and organizes the annual plant sale there. He is also one of the growers who has worked to tend and harvest produce for Project Giving Gardens, school gardens funded through the Captain Planet Foundation based in Atlanta. This job as a caretaker farmer to school gardens that have been lovingly planted and tended by young students was elevated during the pandemic.
When the Foundation approached him this time last year, they quickly formed a partnership that helped the Foundation distribute 2,000 plants into metro Giving Gardens, plants that might have otherwise have gone into a compost pile because the garden couldn’t hold its popular annual plant sale due to COVID.
Leesa Carter is the executive director for Captain Planet Foundation and explains how Project Giving Gardens - new last summer, are being planted and funded as a response to the pandemic, an extension of the school Learning Gardens. “The need for fresh foods at local food pantries is strong, and now we have 10 urban growers, 102 schools garden sites and 22 community gardens.”
She said the precious school Learning Gardens benefit children who learn not only where their food comes from, but maybe even how good vegetables actually are!
With 550 Learning Gardens nationwide and 325 here in Atlanta, this hometown program has deep roots here. “In 2011, the idea came to fruition and since the demand from schools has increased,” says Leesa. For an initial investment of $3,000, schools get lesson plans, garden supplies, training and how to manage the land during the summer when the small farmers are not on the property. “A cooking cart is also included so students can reap then eat what they sow, learning so much along the way.”
Gardens can be used to create context and for teaching/ applying concepts and skills across all subjects. Project Learning Garden provides numerous lesson activities or “Explorations” (organized thematically in “Collections”) for every grade level – Kindergarten through 8th Grade - organized by grade band. These Explorations can be easily integrated into your scope and sequence and are aligned to support Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.
Thanks to volunteers like Art, the gardens will continue to flourish.
Donate compost, your time or financial support at CaptainPlanetFoundation.org