Scholars With Shovels at The Grande Innovation Academy
Scholars with Shovels is a community garden based out of The Grande Innovation Academy Schoolyard. It is currently 2000 sq/ft with 10 garden boxes measuring 2x6. We also have 6 chickens that were raised from chicks and are fed daily from the garden scraps (radish tops, pepper plant leaves, etc). They roam free for about 5 hours during the school day and scholars are responsible for herding them back into their coup. All grade levels have planted in the garden and continue to plant and harvest produce. Recently we added an aquaponics garden, complete with Tilapia. Our newest project includes our fruit tree orchard that arrived from California this winter. We had 30 dormant bare root trees planted by the entire school and an arborist from Phoenix.
It is our mission to educate scholars on farming techniques, seasonal gardening plans, sustainable food sources, pen and plow, and farm to table. We already have Physical Educator on a daily basis as well as Peaceful Playground twice a day. Our scholars currently bring their lunches to school however we require each scholar to have a healthy lunch. In addition, at our school we host several "Lunch and Learn" classes for our parents and scholars encouraging healthy eating habits. We have outside nutritionists come and share their knowledge about living a health lifestyle.
The Scholars with Shovels program services 400-500, k-8th grade scholars who attend The Grande Innovation Academy. The school is located in Pinal county where the percentage of single mother households exceeds all other counties in the state of Arizona.
Our ultimate goal is to have a fully operational donation only farmers market that is completely run by the scholars. They would create business plans, brand the market name and specialty item, as well as learn farming techniques that would yield the most produce.
We currently partner with Lode Star Gardens (A 40 acre, self-sustaining, Co-Op of naturally grown produce in North Eastern Arizona) where we receive gardening tips, methods and instruction in the science of organic farming and the understanding of where we get our food. A group of 20-25 scholars accompany admin to Lodestar 3 times a year to become fully engrossed in the farming lifestyle, they in turn return to the school to share their newly acquired knowledge and skills. We plan to continue our partnership with Lode Star Farms in the hopes of making the program and curriculum an option for all of our middle school scholars. In the future we plan to incorporate a healthy snack option for our scholars where they will be the farmer, the nutritionists, and the chefs as our school values are about educating the whole child.