During the 2017-2018 school year, the Chula Vista Elementary School District will expand its gardening program to educate students about the importance of health and nutrition.
With the help of school staff and volunteers, students have the opportunity to learn how to grow fresh fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, zucchinis, tomatoes, and much more. Each quarter, students hold a Harvest Party to celebrate the success of their crops by cooking a variety of meals that use fresh ingredients straight from the garden.
In addition to providing students with light physical activity, gardening allows for a unique learning environment where students can conduct research, collaborate with peers, and use problem solving skills to make their garden grow.
School gardens are living laboratories, where students can apply their horticultural knowledge and skills to conduct investigations and develop a deeper understanding of what plants need to flourish. As they garden, students get to learn about how certain insects, such as ladybugs, are beneficial and necessary for a healthy ecosystem. Throughout the year, students also get the opportunity to observe diverse plant and insect life cycles and learn to hypothesize based on observed patterns they have tracked and recorded each season.
To make their garden a success, students must learn about sustainability methods and strategies, such as composting. Each day, students add their lunchtime waste to a compost bin, which can later be used to create nutrient-rich soil for the garden once the waste decomposes. Staff members and gardeners also make a contribution by recycling their daily waste and collecting browns from around the school that can be dumped into a compost bin in the garden. After students finish observing various stages of decomposition, the soil is mixed into the garden bed, and the composting process begins again.
Currently, there are 38 of schools with a garden, however the number is expected to rise as more school are approved for funding. The program has been made possible by contributions from the American Heart Association, local organizations, community volunteers, and CVESD staff who have dedicated their time to making each garden a success and cultivating young minds.
About the Chula Vista Elementary School District
The Chula Vista Elementary School District (CVESD) is the largest K-6th grade elementary school district in the state of California. It is located in the southern San Diego County and enrolls approximately 30,000 students within 46 schools. The district serves diverse communities and provides each student with an equal opportunity to excel within a rigorous learning environment that nurtures imagination, intellect, and a sense of inquiry.