Veggie U Classroom Gardens
The Veggie U Classroom Garden Program is a unique way to impart important health lessons to elementary students in Ohio and nationwide. The nonprofit program supplies complete indoor gardens and a science curriculum that delivers hands-on lessons in nutrition, plant science, and more. Over the course of the five-week program, the students grow their own vegetables and learn the importance of making healthy meal choices.
Teacher Jenni Roush works on the Veggie U program with her third grade class at Southern Elementary school in Racine, Ohio.
“In sitting in on the Feast Days, the students were very excited for the visitors who came to listen to their presentations,” said Katelyn Coan, M.Ed., CHES, Health Educator, Lake County General Health District. “They gave wonderful presentations on what they had learned from Veggie U. I truly believe in what Veggie U offers educationally as well as socially. The students worked great together over the duration of the program, watching the vegetables grow from a seed to their edible states.”
The Veggie U program includes 25 hands-on science lessons that include journal writing, reading, math and other concepts. Interspersed within the lessons are fun activities to get the students interested in eating more vegetables.
“All the teachers and students seem to truly enjoy the activities and learning experiences,” said Jaclyn Yahn, Health Educator, Belmont County Health Department. “Some of the vegetables actually come from the local grocery stores. Veggie U provides money to the teachers to buy veggies for tasting day. The students get to taste the vegetables, maybe some that they’ve never had before, and then the rest come from the gardens that they grow in their classrooms. The Belmont County Health Department is providing the funding for two schools to have the program through a Child and Family Health Services (CFHS) grant.”
Other fun and educational activities in the Veggie U program include an opportunity for students to actively participate. “The Veggie U indoor gardening curriculum is great for our schools because the kids get to literally dig in, get their hands dirty, grow and maintain various vegetable plants from the seed up, learn about nutrition, start a worm farm – they love that part – all while having fun, but learning at the same time,” said Juli Simpson, RN, BSN, LSN, CFHS Program Director, Meigs County Health Department. “Over the past few years, the CFHS program has helped fund indoor gardening curriculum for all three public school districts in Meigs County in an effort to help instill some of these important concepts to kids starting at an early age.”
Many ODH health educators have seized on the Veggie U program to help them meet their county goals with the help of CFHS grant funding. If you’d like more information on Veggie U and Classroom Garden education, please visit VeggieU.org or call Lynne Eirons at (440) 774-8344 ext. 16.