Sprouts Farmers Market's Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation, in collaboration with the School Garden Support Organization (SGSO) Network, will present the first-ever virtual garden-based learning event with lessons taught by students at school garden sites across the country on April 27 from 10 to 11 a.m. PT. Held during National Garden Month, which was nationally declared by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2015, the event furthers the foundation's commitment to advancing children’s nutrition education.
“It is essential that we educate our children about establishing good nutrition and healthy eating habits early in life to lead to better, positive health outcomes later in life,” noted Vilsack. “We need to expand and improve our outreach and education with a much greater focus on nutrition security, giving children and families tools to make healthy food choices, because the food we eat affects our health throughout our lives. One of the most effective education tools we have with kids is gardens. When a child tastes food grown in a garden for the first time, it opens her eyes to new choices and can begin a nutrition journey that lasts a lifetime.”
The 45-minute virtual event, "Growing School Gardens: Seeding a Healthy Future for Our Youth," will have an estimated audience of 500 elementary schools. The student-led lessons will show how school gardens are furthering nutrition and environmental literacy, STEM education and social/emotional wellness.
“This event provides educators with classroom content and will increase awareness [of] the true value of garden-based education,” said John Fisher, co-founder of SGSO, which comprises organizations and individuals supporting school garden programs at a regional, school district or state level. “Teachers know it, and research shows it. School gardens increase children’s sense of responsibility to care for the environment; academic achievement and engagement; self-confidence and teamwork.”
Livestream activities begin in Hawaii and end in Washington, D.C., on such topics as Cultural Connections Between Plants, People, Food and Land; Environmental Design in the School Garden; Community and Youth Development; and We Are Scientists in the Garden. The event coincides with the resumption of in-person classes at many schools.
“Throughout the pandemic, we all witnessed the enormous pressures put on students and educators, and school gardens helped to alleviate some of those pressures when leveraged appropriately,” observed Sprouts Healthy Communities Foundation Executive Director and SGSO chair member Lyndsey Waugh. “Additionally, school and community gardens can oftentimes be a source for emergency food assistance for communities experiencing food insecurity. Now is the time to recognize how we support our nation’s youth with the resources to rebound and thrive, and we believe wholeheartedly that school gardens can play a tremendous role in this effort.”
After the event, from 11 a.m. to noon PT, media, nonprofits and government officials can participate in a panel discussion with leaders in the school garden movement. The panel will facilitate key conversations and youth perspectives on the importance of school garden education.
Phoenix-based Sprouts Farmers Market, which employs more than 35,000 team members at 340-plus stores in 23 states, is No. 45 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2020 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.