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A Campaign to Build School Gardens

Alex with an Ingalls School Kindergarten Class
Alex with an Ingalls School Kindergarten Class
FoodCorps service member Alex Freedman probably never thought that his year of service would include selling socks and underwear. Alex serves with CitySprouts at the school gardens at Ford and Ingalls Elementary Schools in Lynn, Mass. To raise money for his gardens, Alex has partnered with the WholeKids Foundation, Indiegogo, and PACT organic clothing to develop a crowdfunding campaign. Over the next few weeks, Alex hopes to raise $2500 to support construction and expansion of the school gardens and Ford and Ingalls. Donors to his campaign, run through Indiegogo, receive socks or underwear specially designed by PACT organic clothing company.

Every day, Alex works with teachers and students in Lynn to use their gardens as classrooms for traditional subjects such as language arts, social studies, math, and science. Garden-based lessons help teachers to reinforce lessons that meet state standards and learning goals. In addition, gardens provide a forum for hands-on, alternative engagement that gets children excited about the lessons and forms a strong connection to fresh, healthy food.

There is already a community garden on the grounds of the Ford School in Lynn. Alex hopes to use the funds from his Indiegogo campaign to to advance this area from a garden to a garden classroom. To create a true garden classroom, he would need supplies such as seeds, trellis netting, and enough hand tools and clipboards for a full class of students. These supplies would allow him to run educational garden experiments, such as observing and measuring the growth of trellised pea plants, that will make the garden more accessible for teachers and classes during the school day.

Next to the Ingalls School, there is a one-acre farm run by The Food Project. The Food Project grows food on the farm that is donated to hunger relief, sold at a local farmers' market, and sold through a community-supported agriculture program. This year, Alex and the students at Ingalls Elementary are going to turn a portion of the farm into a school garden where the children can dig, plant, and explore. The infrastructure for a school garden does not exist yet at Ingalls, so Alex hopes to use the funding from his campaign to build raised beds and a garden shed to get the garden going.

For Alex, "changing children's relationship with the food system seems one of the best investments in tomorrow." Whether it's a child asking her parents for the purple pole beans she learned about in the garden; a student proclaiming that pressing apple cider was the best day of his life; or a class of young students relishing fresh-picked salad during a writing exercise, he finds his work in the garden incredibly rewarding. "I haven’t heard from a student yet who does not look forward to going out to the garden." he says. "More regularly, they see me in the hall and ask when we’re going out next!"

You can access Alex's Indiegogo campaign for the Ford and Ingalls School gardens here. The campaign remains active through Thursday, February 28 - please donate and help to spread the word!

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