DeKALB – DeKalb County Community Gardens has hired a new school garden coordinator to help further its effort to get programs into local schools. DeKalb resident Joey Moore joined the organization after coordinating the school garden at Jefferson Elementary School for the past four years.
"We have had great success in building a community of support and a culture of gardening within the school," Moore said in a news release. "I feel honored to be given the opportunity to continue this work within the district, and look forward to supporting the amazing work being done at the other [DeKalb School District 428] school garden sites."
The community gardens program began in 2012, when founder Dan Kenney sought to bring food to students of District 428.
"Each school distributes fresh produce to its families in a variety of ways which might be at local libraries, at parent pick-up after summer school or at designated work nights at the garden itself, to name just a few," according to the news release. "Excess produce is delivered to local food pantries."
In using the gardens as teaching opportunities, the schools have made individual plans. Some use 4-H programs, others have science lessons, writing prompts or opportunities for quiet time.
The program found it was difficult to get teachers to participate however, because of the time required. Even successful coordinators found it difficult to work the gardens into programs when working full-time.
As a solution, DCCG created a school garden coordinator position for the year beginning July 1.
As coordinator, Moore will "work with each school, she would have to have a good working knowledge of gardening, understand the K-5 curriculum, and have excellent communication skills to teach kids, instruct staff and guide volunteers," according to the news release.
In 2013 DCCG established vegetable gardens at all 10 District 428 sites.
"Since their installation, DCCG has supported the gardens by providing free of charge, seeds, vegetable plants and compost, as well as, gardening education," according to the press release. "These gardens were built to address the needs of students who were food insecure, especially over the summer months."
Each school has between three and 11 beds for its gardens.
"For some students, it is a chance to see where their food comes from, to know that not all tomatoes are in cans, and to then taste fresh produce," according to the news release. "The students take ownership when they can choose what to plant and check on it each day under a grow light or by a window. It is a big day when the plants are no longer seedlings and can be planted in the garden outside."
Moore was excited to take on the position.
"I feel honored to be given the opportunity to continue this work within the district, and look forward to supporting the amazing work being done at the other District 428 school garden sites," Moore said.