Planting the Seeds for Lifelong Gardeners
In January of 2020, the first seedlings in the new Sonder Project garden at Walton High School were planted with the support of students from Ms. Spice’s culinary classes. Ms. Spice is the school’s leading advisor on the project and is excited about the effect the new garden will have on her students.
“I have previous experience with gardens in schools and it made such an impact on the kids who were involved. It’s not just about the skills here, but the [garden] skills that will last the students a lifetime,” says Ms. Spice.
Students from Ms. Spice’s class fill the new Sonder Project school garden beds with soil.
Students plant the first winter crop.
Providing the skills to garden into adulthood and, as a result, improving food security for a lifetime is precisely the goal. The Sonder Project chose to partner with Walton High School for several reasons. For starters, over 60% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch––one of the highest rates in the county. Students who qualify for free or reduced lunch are more likely to suffer from the challenges of food insecurity. Food insecurity puts students at a disadvantage because they are more likely to struggle both academically and socially than their peers, leading to lower test scores and behavior problems[i]. We believe our garden can help incoming students continue their enthusiasm for growing food, particularly in a rural school environment where agriculture can often be a way of life.
As Ms. Spice told us, “It’s a big agricultural community. I think [the garden] will help bring it back.”
Last, but certainly not least, the administration and teachers at Walton High were highly supportive of the project to take the lead and see that it’s utilized. The garden is already making an immediate impact in Ms. Spice’s culinary classes. Due to lack of funding and supplies, Ms. Spice relied too much on textbooks in the classroom, as opposed to hands-on experiences, because she doesn’t have the ingredients for the students to cook. Now, her students have been able to spend time outside watching the garden grow and they are eager to start harvesting.
“As the garden grows, I think it will make a change,” says Ms. Spice. The Sonder Project is proud to be a part of the change.
The school garden at Walton High is a pilot program for The Sonder Project. If you like what The Sonder Project is doing, and interested in supporting our efforts, please consider donating HERE.
Ms. Spice (4th from left), pictured after a day of planting with her students.