The gardens were created to help preschoolers identify, understand, and demonstrate the life cycles of plants and animals. The grants are for $2,000 from the Whole Kids Foundation (a Whole Foods Market foundation), and for $1,000 from Keep Cobb Beautiful, and will enhance the activities that teach children how to take care of the environment, while recognizing that people create food from natural resources. The Sunshine School is located at East Cobb's Temple Kol Emeth.
Stephanie Joseph, Sunshine School Curriculum Coordinator explains, “The best way to ensure that our bodies get all of the nutrients that we need to thrive is to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. With our wonderful gardens, our children are learning, first-hand, how to grow healthy foods that will improve our nutrition and wellness.”
The Sunshine School garden beds were installed by Farmer D Organics. There is one large bed (10’ X 2’) on the toddler playground and 4 smaller beds (4’ X 2’) on the preschool playground. This spring, the students’ science lessons have focused on planting seeds, learning about the parts of a plant, what a plant needs to grow, healthy foods, etc. The school purchased a rain barrel to collect rain water to water their crops.
The students began sprouting seeds (tomatoes to start with) in the classrooms and then transplanted them to the beds. They planted starter plants such as cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, mint, oregano, sunflowers, hostas, seed potatoes, and strawberries.
Ms. Joseph said, “In an effort to expand our knowledge of the environment, we use our senses to describe the patterns found in nature: seeing the different plants that are living things; touching the different parts of a flower and plant; hearing about the needs of living things such as water, food and air; smelling the plant and flower as they grows; and tasting the fruits and vegetables once they have sprouted.”
The Garden education will continue into the summer. Children from the Sunshine School’s summer camp, “Camp Billi Marcus,” will have science once a week with garden-themed lessons along with hands-on experience weeding, watering, harvesting and tasting the crops. Future plans include purchasing a compost bin and teaching the children about composting/recycling.
Ms. Joseph proudly said, “Through this program, our children become better stewards of the planet.”