City Schoolyard Garden (CSG) believes that young people deserve the opportunity to learn by doing, connect to their food sources, and access healthy food in school. We actualize this by building outdoor garden classrooms in Charlottesville, Virginia public schools, providing over 2,200 youth with opportunities for hands-on learning. We also support teachers with professional training and lesson plans to use the garden as part of their classroom teaching. Our overall mission is to cultivate academic achievement, health, environmental stewardship, and community engagement through garden-based experiential learning.
Launched in 2010 by a dedicated group of community members, educators, parents and committed school administrators, our organization’s flagship garden at Buford Middle School is now a fully integrated part of the seventh and eighth grade curricular and extra-curricular life of the school, included in classes like Life Science, Art, English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), PE/Health, Civics, and after-school cooking and gardening clubs. We are currently growing to serve more students with new programs at all six Charlottesville elementary schools and have installed or expanded gardens at each school, securing part-time garden coordinators to serve as teaching assistants, garden managers, volunteer coordinators, and liaisons between CSG and each school community.
We are currently undertaking our first ever Kickstarter campaign to build a brand new hoophouse at Buford Middle School that will allow for an expansion of garden programming beyond the growing season. This new infrastructure will also allow for student-grown seedlings to be distributed to the elementary school gardens as well as community garden plots throughout Charlottesville. Additional funds raised beyond our $6,000 goal will be reinvested in supporting our amazing staff of garden coordinators and garden educators, whose dedication, knowledge, and enthusiasm for garden-based learning is what truly makes our program thrive.
CSG’s vision for success is to educate the whole child: To unlock learning potential for students in City Schools while providing a fundamental lifetime-learning experience around how healthy food is grown and prepared. At the same time, we’re engaging children’s senses and providing them with an alternative learning environment that connects them with nature and the outdoors. Studies from around the country point to the impact that environment-based learning programs such as ours have on students’ academic performance and their willingness to eat more fresh, healthy produce. We believe our program can make just such a difference in the lives of young people in Charlottesville.
Photos courtesy of City Schoolyard Garden
This month, we're challenging the GOOD community to host a dinner party and cook a meal that contains fewer ingredients than the number of people on the guest list. Throughout March, we'll share ideas and resources for being more conscious about our food and food systems. Join the conversation at good.is/food and on Twitter at #chewonit.