Classroom to the Garden, Springfield teachers prep for Farm-to-School effort

Dozens of Springfield teachers working on their green thumb, hoping to share what they've learned with their students. It's part of a USDA Farm-to-School grant. The effort is to help empower Springfield teachers with the tools and skills needed to get students involved in the process of creating healthy habits.

David Egesdal teaches 7th grade math at Reed Academy. Not a subject known for going out in the garden, but he plans to change that. " Students are naturally afraid of math. By bringing the garden in helps with that. We talked about compost the other day, 4 to 1 ratios with greens and brown items and a lot of the kids were able to understand and work with that as opposed to just using numbers," says Egesdal.

The University of Missouri extension is providing teachers with resources and lessons on how to better use their existing school garden as an outdoor classroom.
Stephanie Roepke, a 2nd grade teacher at Holland Elementary says she came into the training with a lot of questions. " How do I get started? Where do I go? How can I help my kids? What can I do for them? And how can I bring it to a 2nd grade level? This training is helpful," Roepke said.

Several hands-on lessons that will teach students to connect with their food and how to grow it. Teachers learned how about creating healthy soil and how to make compost on a budget.

Dr. Pam Duitsman, a nutrition and health specialist with the University of Missouri Extension says " These schools don't have a lot of money to spend on this but this can be done on a shoe string. It can be done very very easily. In fact it can be sometimes with what's available when lunch is over in the cafeteria you can get scraps and different things."

A lesson plan teachers like Mrs. Roepke say students will definitely dig. " They're going to remember 2nd grade in Mrs. Roepke's class we got to go out to the garden and we got to plant something. And if they actually get to eat the fruit or vegetable that comes from it, that's even better."

Springfield Schools has been working since January to serve locally grown food in several elementary schools. It hopes to grow that number over the next year.