The Cornucopia Project teaches kids to grow food -- and to make a lifetime of healthy eating choices. Susan Ellingwood and her third-graders in Dublin are old hands in their school garden -- which was established with help from the Cornucopia Project.
It's a busy classroom in the Dublin Consolidated School in the spring. Mrs. Ellingwood is wrapping up a spelling lesson when a much anticipated visitor enters the room. The dozen or so third-graders are eager to greet her, but Ellingwood holds them at bay until the lesson is over. Once over, there is a frenzy of putting books and snacks away.
"How will Cat know that you're paying attention?' says Ellingwood. Young Sydney suggests that she'll know when they all are quiet. As they quiet down, Cat introduces herself again. Cat is from the Cornucopia Project, she was in the classroom last fall as the class was harvesting last season's plants.
"The Cornucopia Project has been a gift to the school. Each year it grows a little bit. The food comes in and we use it in the lunch room and the children can snack on carrots while they're in the garden. We've incorporated some cooking, and hosted some community events and have invited people in to have soup that the children made. It's becoming more embedded in what we do every day."
The garden is also included in writing projects:
"Once the garden is up and running it becomes a day to day event.” And Ellingwood ties the garden into just about every element of the curriculum, “we use our math skills. They're working on area and perimeter and volume. So if we build a new bed, how much wood will we need? How much soil will they need to fill it?”
And Cornucopia facilitates much of what happens in the classroom. “There are such demands on the children and the teachers day-to-day,” says Ellingwood. “And when they walk in the bring everything that we need.” This year she wanted to incorporate the garden into their history lessons. “People today can go out and buy everything they need, but they couldn't 100-200 years ago.” Cornucopia created the lesson soup to nuts that take the kids back in time to learn what folks in Dublin did for food before grocery stores.
And as the garden permeates all aspects of the school day, Ellingwood says the kids “have really brought they're school lessons into their whole lives, which is great to see and really what every teacher hopes for.”