Backyard Growers (BYG) is a grassroots initiative helping to reshape Gloucester’s relationship with food. We begin by providing resources and support to establish vegetable gardens in homes and schools. In the end we create life-long gardeners inspired by the power of growing one’s own food.
In 2014 we will establish an ongoing district-wide school garden program based on our successful 2013 pilot program. Our goals are to expose every elementary school child to the experience of growing and eating fresh vegetables, and to build the capacity of each school to maintain their school gardens for the long-term with limited financial and human resources. The program will result in well-managed, attractive school gardens that become part of school culture and that increase children’s understanding of how food is grown and food’s relationship to the environment.
BYG incorporates hands-on student participation in school gardens at least four times a year implemented by School Garden Teams, principals, and teachers based on the School Garden Plan and with BYG support. The school garden program is based on four major events:
o April planting of the spring salad crop where every child in the district plants lettuce varieties.
o Annual Salad Days where students harvest the salad greens in late May and eat them as part of their school lunch program (in collaboration with Gloucester Food Service).
o June planting of vegetable crops where every grade level plants a specific fall crop that requires little maintenance over the summer and that can be harvested upon the return to school.
o Annual Fall Harvest Celebration where students harvest their crops during an all-day school celebration, and eat them as part of their school lunch program (in collaboration with Gloucester Food Service).
By involving the students in the full circle of events—planting, harvesting, and eating—we are presenting them with a unique experience with their food and encouraging them through hands-on learning to enjoy healthy eating!