Spring is around the corner, and spuds are in the ground. We are pleased
to announce the 2nd annual Smart Potatoes program - an effort by
elementary students and teachers to grow potatoes in their school garden
to be harvested and donated to their neighborhood food pantries. Our
partner school communities are helping learning and caring take root by
studying potatoes in their learning gardens and distributing harvested potatoes to members of their community in the
This program is a collaboration between REAL School Gardens in partnership with The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT) and the educators at participating schools. We are working together for students to benefit from a unique learning experience that digs them deeper into academic understanding and sows the lifelong lesson of serving others.
Students and teachers at over 25 participating Smart Potato schools are all sure to be learning as they grow. In an effort to maintain the momentum of each of the participating schools (potatoes have an extra long growing season, around 100 days!), the staff at REAL School Gardens and BRIT are providing educational and horticultural support along the way. Teachers are equipped with lesson plans specific to potatoes to link classroom curriculum to hands-on experiences with life cycles, measurement, graphing, inherited traits, parts of plants, cultural connections, and more. Participating schools also have an opportunity to receive more individualized support with on-site instruction from the education staff of BRIT and REAL School Gardens.
Last year, 14 schools in Tarrant County participated in the program, with a combined donation of over 430 pounds of potatoes to local food pantries. One teacher who grew and donated potatoes with his students last year described it as "...a learning experience that was priceless and very rewarding," and another educator enthusiastically claimed that having her 4th graders engaged in growing potatoes for their neighborhood food pantry was "truly one of the best applied learning projects that I have worked with." One of her astute students wrote in a reflection on the experience: "I learned that it feels good to help somebody out every once in a while."
This year, over 25 local elementary schools have signed up for Smart Potatoes and planted with their neighborhood food pantry in mind. You can take a note from their books and find the closest food bank to you with this food bank locator: http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx
We are looking forward to another year of filling young minds and food pantry shelves with some really Smart Potatoes!