School garden teaches students life lessons

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - In a neighborhood that is miles from the nearest farm, a teacher at DeLaSalle Charter High School helps students tend to a garden they just built this year.

"I'm hoping students will be interested in things that grow from the ground, as opposed to a bag or a box,” said Mary Silwance, coordinator of the Farm to School program at DeLaSalle.

The USDA funded Farm to School program builds relationships with local farmers and teaches students how to grow vegetables.

"It also widens their palate beyond fast food or convenience store food, thereby impacting their health,” Silwance said.

The healthier options from the garden become lunch in the school cafeteria.  The students also use the food in culinary class to learn how to cook.

"Kids improve their reading skills, they improve their math skills and they do it while preparing healthy meals," said Mark Williamson, DeLaSalle’s Executive Director.

Williamson says DeLaSalle focuses on experiential learning to give students a hands-on environment and improve teamwork.

"Growing academically, growing socially, growing emotionally, growing physically -- it is all captured in that garden,” Williamson said.

A garden in an area known as a food desert provides students an oasis of life lessons.

DeLaSalle might also open a farmers market at the school to teach students business and marketing skills. The charter school offers free tuition to at-risk students and is currently enrolling for the school year which begins August 18.

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