15 LCPS Schools Win Big With School Garden Scholarships

This spring, School Nutrition Services and Loudoun County Health Department (LCHD) teamed up to award 15 schools with scholarships to help develop and sustain their school garden programs. The partnership between LCHD and School Nutrition has been ongoing for the past 3 years. They have supported LCPS school garden initiatives by supplying nearly 150 indoor hydroponic self-watering vertical garden towers, soil, seeds, and garden kits to PK – 12 classrooms in the county. Jennifer Brady, Obesity and Chronic Disease Prevention Educator for LCHD, said “Pairing hands-on gardening education with nutrition education has been shown to increase a child’s likelihood to try new vegetables and this is the outcome we have heard anecdotally from teachers. LCPS kids are enjoying kale after growing it in their garden towers much to the surprise of their parents!”

Dr. Becky Domokos-Bays, Director of School Nutrition, described the school garden program as “an inter-disciplinary approach to nutrition education accomplished by coordinating school gardens, school cafeterias and physical education provides students with authentic, rich experiences that is helping them make nutritious choices is exciting. Students of all ages and abilities are learning life long positive health habits through the this valuable partnership.”

This year, thanks to funding from the Virginia Department of Health, LCHD provided $15,000 in additional supplies to gardens in 15 schools based on the individual needs of each school. Interested teachers completed an evaluation of their gardens and were able to request funding for the specific items they needed to take their school gardens to the next level. This ranged from lumber and rakes for gardens just starting out to more advanced gardening supplies like permaculture materials. School Nutrition Services utilized some of the funds received from their USDA Farm to School Planning Grant to provide additional supplies and tools to the select schools. They will also work with these schools during the upcoming school year to provide hands-on educational opportunities for the students.

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2018 School Garden Scholarship Winners:

Middleburg Charter Academy: $500
Lovettsville Elementary: $500
Mercer Middle : $1,000
Frederick Douglass Elementary: $3,000
Meadowland Elementary: $1,000
Rolling Ridge Elemetary: $1,000
Heritage High: $500
Loudoun Valley High: $500
Sully Elementary: $1,000
Smarts Mill Middle: $1,000
Cedar Lane Elementary: $500
Belmont Station Elementary: $1,000
JM Lunsford Middle: $1,000
Park View High: $1,000
Pinebrook Elementary: $1,500

For more information on school gardens or the farm to school program in LCPS, contact Stefanie Dove, RDN, SNS at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org.

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Putting School Nutrition in the Spotlight at the 1st Annual Regional Garden Summit

Written By: Stefanie Dove, RDN, School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator

On October 14th, 2017, DC Greens hosted the first annual Regional School Garden Summit at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary in Washington, D.C. The goal of the Summit was to nurture the emerging regional network of nonprofits, schools, and government agencies interested in capacity and network building around school gardens by providing a space to learn, share best practices and make new connections. The day consisted of panel discussions covering topics such as innovative school garden program models, sustaining school gardens through public policy and advocacy, growing networks, and collaborative efforts to connect gardens and the cafeteria.

Stefanie Dove, RDN, School Nutrition Marketing Coordinator for Loudoun County Schools Department of School Nutrition, sat on the panel to discuss the ways LCPS utilizes school gardens as educational tools to connect the concepts to school meals. LCPS Cafe also provided copies of their School Garden Toolkit in the gift bags for all attendees. Mark Pankau, Physical Education Teacher at Guilford Elementary, sat on a panel to discuss the importance of growing school garden networks.

In the afternoon, all 75 attendees were provided a lunch that was prepared using ingredients from the school garden. After lunch, attendees were shuttled onto buses where they spent the afternoon touring several school gardens across the district. The summit ended with an evening of networking with other school garden advocates in the region.

For more information on the school garden program in Loudoun County, please contact Stefanie Dove at Stefanie.Dove@LCPS.org.

Guilford Elementary Set Begin Garden to Cafeteria Program

In the spring of 2017 Guilford Elementary was honored to receive a $1,500 grant from the Loudoun Education Foundation (LEF), to install six raised grade level garden beds as part of Health and Wellness PBL project at Guilford. The purpose is to integrate nutrition lessons through planting and harvesting of grade level crops. Guilford has also been named one of the LCPS schools for the new School Garden to Cafeteria pilot program through the School Nutrition Office. The project has ties to all grade levels and is facilitated by Mark Pankau, Health and Physical Educator for Guilford.

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Project Based Learning is the second phase on all Loudoun County Public School campuses following the One to the World (OTTW) projects of last school year. The driving question that our students will be investigating will be, “How will growing our own food help us make decisions for our future?”.

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Guilford has already made great progress in our PBL and OTTW integration across grade levels and disciplines with specialists supporting grade levels as exhibited in our wellness and physical education in the areas of nutrition for third grade, exploring the different Virginia Regions through physical activity and supporting planting and growth with the KinderGARDEN projects. These are examples, like the grade level garden beds and highlights how school Specialists can support classroom core curriculum while making meaningful connections for children.
In July Mr. Pankau was contacted by the Loudoun Health Office with information on the Virginia Food Access Network Day of Action on September 29th. The VFAN goals are to raise awareness of organizations working to increase food access to improve nutrition and end hunger. A second goal is to encourage the promotion of food access by facilitating volunteer opportunities.
The Garden to Cafeteria project will provide students hands on skills, while supporting the needs of the Loudoun community. The grade level gardens ribbon cutting on September 29th, will be the kickoff event to the LCPS pilot school program and the VFAN Day of Action.

For more information please contact Mark Pankau at mpankau@lcps.org or Stefanie Dove, RDN at stefanie.dove@lcps.org