Champions in the Garden

Valley gets fired up with its inaugural year of garden programing.


This Spring when third grade teacher and Master Gardener-in-training, Mandy Smith, approached me about helping out with the garden, I couldn’t have been more grateful.  Valley teachers and administrators have been enthusiastic and supportive of the gardening initiatives we have tackled together over the past two years, but I have (admittedly) been quite nervous about leaving these two little gardens behind as my second and final year with Food and Fitness comes to an end.


The question many of us RCs always have in the back of our minds: will this program/garden/menu/etc. continue after I’m gone?  It’s enough to give me nightmares.  One of my biggest fears is that my many hours of service, in the end, will have made only a minimal impact.


The answer to allay my fears, of course: it’s all about the relationships.  At Valley, just as at my other schools, I’ve had the opportunity to acquaint myself with dozens of teachers, guidance counselors, food service workers, administrators, etc. who admire the work of Food and Fitness and and hope to see these programs grow.  Mandy is one such champion!


Together, Mandy and I composed a schedule for a weekly garden program to occur throughout the summer.  Each Tuesday evening we meet with elementary students in the garden for a bit of work and a bunch of learning and creativity.  Mandy’s many years of teaching experience, paired with the resources I have accrued through my service with Food and Fitness and FoodCorps, make our hour-and-a-half together with the kids a thing of beauty.


Attendance for our programs hasn’t been huge, as we learn to navigate the summertime obstacles of softball, baseball, swim team, and family vacations, but our few attendees have gone home with dirt under their fingernails, smiles on their faces, and perhaps a garlands of flowers around their heads.  I have no doubt this program will continue to grow as the season progresses and into next year’s season.


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