Connecting Students to Art & Nature

Each year YoloArts’ Art & Ag Project awards two Yolo County elementary school teachers a Dorothy Peterson Arts Grant to fund an agriculturally-inspired art lesson in their classroom. Janice Purnell, YoloArts’ Creative Director, checked in with one of this year’s recipients Karyn Schnaible, 4th/5th grade at Dingle Elementary in Woodland, and Art and Ag Project partner Yolo Farm to Fork.

Ms. Schnaible’s project, Handmade Papers with Harvested Cotton and Wildflowers, was to take place during the Spring. Due to the recent school closures the students were unable to harvest the cotton from their school garden and fully complete the lesson. However, Ms. Schnaible, along with Dingle Elementary’s School Garden Coordinator, Allison Bright Rose, are working together to make sure that the students are able to work on part of the project at home.

Dingle Elementary Pollinator Garden

What was the intended project and how has it changed?

Allison Bright Rose: The Handmade Papers with Harvested Cotton and Wildflowers project was designed to connect the students to the pollinator garden along with the agricultural crop of cotton. We want the students to appreciate the agriculture that surrounds them and show them ways they can be creative and artistic with it! Students were going to learn flower pressing and paper making during the weekly garden lessons.

Now, the home project kit for students will include a flower press, paper for the press and instruction of how to use the press. Students will be encouraged to experiment with pressing different types of flowers and other natural objects, with safety and respect for the environment in mind.  The paper-making will wait until the next school year.

What is the history of the Dingle School Garden?

Allison Bright Rose: The Dingle School Garden was created many years ago, establishing a fenced raised bed garden surrounded by a fruit orchard of 11 trees.  In 2015, I initiated a parent clean-up day for the garden and got in touch with YF2F to help rehabilitate the garden beds. At the same time, Christy Hayes of Ktichen 428 and Mojo’s had contacted YF2F about sponsoring the Dingle garden.  With Christy’s sponsorship, a grant from Nugget and the guidance of YF2F, Dingle was able to join the Growing Lunch Program, sponsored by Raley’s. YF2F also provided paid interns to facilitate garden maintenance along with hands-on experiential learning with the students.

How has Yolo Farm to Fork responded to the current crisis?

Anya Perron-Burdick, Program Manager: We are as busy as ever responding to the needs of our community – distributing vegetables from our Growing Lunch Program and providing garden kits for students and their families. We also hope to launch a virtual garden-based learning project called Growing Melons at Home. Growing vegetables is a fun activity for families to do together and important too, especially during this time of economic uncertainty.

The Growing Lunch Program is currently in ten schools in Yolo County and specializes in crops that you can eat raw.  We are ramping up production so that we can expand this program and grow through the summer months since people need access to fresh fruits and vegetables now.  We are planting spring tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, peppers, corn and zucchini.  Yolo Food Bank and the school district are getting these vegetable boxes to low income families with children who attend these schools.

Gardens on the Grow garden kits are being distributed to families who are coming to pick up their vegetable boxes.  It’s a way to encourage families to grow vegetables in their own homes, similar to victory gardens. Each box contains soil or organic potting mix, 4-5 vegetable seedlings, 3 packages of seeds, care instructions, a link to video tutorials, and pots for transplanting. All materials have been donated by local agribusiness.

Lastly, at the request of several elementary school teachers for garden-based learning, we will prepare and distribute Growing Melons at Home kits. Each kit will include containers, soil, seeds and an instructional unit plan for growing melons with links to CA Content and Next Generation Science Standards.  We will provide up to 100 Growing Melons at Home kits to teachers.

Dorothy Peterson Arts Grant honors Dorothy Peterson, who founded Yolo Farm to Fork (YF2F), is offered twice a year to all K-6 teachers in Yolo County and is offered through YoloArts’ Art & Ag in partnership with the Yolo Land Trust and YF2F.

Dorothy Peterson was a Yolo County educator, community leader, and arts advocate who touched many lives through school gardening and recycling programs.

“Dorothy was the founding mother of Yolo Farm to Fork. It was her vision that combined active, edible outdoor learning with creativity in visual arts that we try to bring to life in all the 67 gardens we now support.” Suzanne Falzone, YF2F President.

The next grant application will be available in June 2020 for the 2020-21 school year. Click HERE for more information.

Yolo Farm to Fork supports over 67 edible school garden programs throughout Yolo County and provides garden-centered and farm-based education to students. We are dedicated to bringing locally grown farm-fresh food to school meals and to reducing waste through recycling and composting. We currently reach more than 10,000 kids with our edible school gardens, farm trips, grants, supplies, and other support.

To learn more about YF2F and their programming HERE.

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