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Even in late-July and August, you can start sowing seeds for cool-season crops like lettuces, kales and peas in the garden for fall harvests. Just make certain you count back from your last average frost day, so you have enough time for your vegetables to ripen before it gets too cold.
The vegetable gardens you grow with your kids can help them make smarter food decisions now and when they get back to school, according to Kay Clark, Nutrition Educator for the Healthy School Project operated by the Ventura Unified School District in California. In the photo below, she is helping elementary school children harvest lettuce to bring their families for Mother Day.
“Many children don’t understand their food sources,” explains Kay. “We’ll sometimes ask young students whether they eat food from plants, and they’ll scream back, ‘No, yuck!’ This lack of knowledge about agriculture and food nutrition is exactly what we’re trying to change with our school programs.”
Sandy Curwood, RDN, MS, agrees. She is the director of Food and Nutrition Services for the Ventura Unified School District and organizes its comprehensive Healthy School Program.
“We’ve established a farm-to-school salad bar in each of Ventura’s 25 schools, from kindergarten to high school,” says Sandy. “Serving farm-fresh, local and seasonal produce to our students and staff has become a way of engaging young people in healthy delicious eating habits. We supplement this effort with school gardens, classroom taste testing and cooking lessons.”
Every school has a garden in Ventura, according to Sandy. “Some schools link their garden to grade-level curriculum in math, science, health, history and other subjects,” she says. “Other schools grow crops for taste testing and some classes even grow food for their cafeterias to use. Each of these connections demonstrates the link between learning and living.”
Along with building and maintaining school gardens, the Ventura Unified School District engages students to embrace fresh local foods with teaching tools including:
How can you apply this excellent example to your own children this summer?