Hiawatha Elementary People's Garden

Iowa State University (ISU) Extension & Outreach Linn County is thrilled to be a part of the People’s Garden School Pilot Program which promotes healthy learning, healthy growing in the classroom.

Students, Hiawatha Elementary School and ISU Extension and Outreach staff and volunteers, and several community partners are well on their way to improve health and well-being for themselves, the environment, their families, communities, Iowa and the nation through a new Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth program.

Hiwatha Elementary People's Garden Big Impact on Community

On March 24, 2012 parents, teens, teachers and Linn County Master Gardeners started assembly of the nine raised bed gardens students will use to grow their own gardens.  Students planted spinach, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, lettuce, peppers, sugar snap peas, beans, & eggplants. 

Hiawatha People's Garden installation

The school and ISU partnership is one of 17 sites across Iowa and 54 in four other states to participate in the one and only United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Service People’s Garden School Pilot Program. In Iowa, these same sites were one of three Wellmark Foundation grant recipients out of 111 applicants to expand efforts to promote healthy living.

“This important (USDA FNS People’s Garden) pilot program will make a significant contribution to the development of national models,” said Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. “This program moves us toward our goal of improving the health and nutrition of our kids and communities and instilling eating habits that can last a lifetime.”

“We are pleased to offer these grants to organizations that will help promote healthy behaviors to communities and schools,” say Matt McGarvey, director of the Wellmark Foundation. “Not only will this allow the opportunity to have more access to healthy foods and resources, but they collectively help educate Iowans of all ages the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

USDA and others visit People's Garden at Hiawatha Elementary School

On May 9, 2012 Brad Gaolach and Martha Aitken from Washington State University Extension, the national leaders of the “Healthy Gardens, Healthy Youth” USDA FNS People’s Garden School Pilot Program joined state leaders Janet Toering and Linda Naeve from ISU Extension and Outreach to celebrate the first year of these projects at Hiawatha Elementary School. Adults and youth shared their new expertise, experiences and enthusiasm.

Julie Bradley, ELL Teacher at Hiawatha Elementary, helps students blog about their new garden.  Read what they have to say.

littlebirdtales.com cover image

On May 29, 2012, the students held a Harvest Party, & harvested lettuce & radishes. Everyone got a taste of the garden before their Summer break began. Since then, Linn County Master Gardeners Cindy Fagan & Phil Pfister have been teaching a 4-H group and a local summer kids camp how to maintain the garden, plant new crops and harvest the vegetables when they are ready. The kids have learned how best to water and how to find garden pests but what they seemed to enjoy the most was getting to sample the broccoli, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, sugar snap peas and beans!

Here in Linn County, we have 160 active Master Gardeners involved in nearly 30 projects. Around 10 MGs are currently involved in the People’s Garden Pilot Program at Hiawatha Elementary School. They assist in everything from the actual garden to coordinating weekly snacks for the students. Their strong support & leadership is what makes classroom programs like this stronger and long-lasting.

 This is an opportunity for us to help these young people learn about the joys of gardening, growing their own food, and why this is important to a healthy lifestyle.  As long time gardeners, we know the value that comes from raising our own foods.

Take a look at the planting instructions for the Hiawatha Elementary Garden.  Linn County Master Gardeners advised during planting that it is important that trellis and taller plants are on the north as to not shade shorter plants, vining plants work well on edge of raised bed, tomatoes work better with support, and cherry tomatoes are great on a trellis. 


Would you like to see a project like this happen at your school?  Contact Elizabeth Ward, eward@iastate.edu or at 319.377.9839 for more information.

Sample Lessons & Ordering Growing in the Garden Curriculum is available at http://www.growinginthegarden.org/info--ordering.html. Training for Growing in the Garden Curriculum is available at http://www.growinginthegarden.org/cll-training.html

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