School Gardens Rock
by Jim Embry

This panel was hosted by Cynthia Walters, Kim Aman, Roxanne Zimmer, Annie Walsh, Daniel Mapp, Laurie Niles, Steph Rooney, Ron Askew, and Alana Reynolds. 

About 50 people and gathered under the Slow Food Salon tent (and the hot sun!) on Saturday, July 20th for the School Gardens Rock presentation, which brought resource speakers from across the Slow Food network to explore curricula and best practices developed by the Slow Food School Garden Network.

The moderators and speakers included: Cynthia Walters- SFUSA Governor of Ohio, Slow Food Columbus School Garden network, Columbus, OH; Kim Aman, SFUSA Governor of Texas, Dallas, TX;  Roxanne Zimmer, Cornell Master Gardener and college professor, Long Island, NY; Annie Walsh, Cooking from the Garden Program Coordinator, Denver, CO; Daniel Mapp, manager of Four Bridges’ educational farm, Santa Cruz, NM;  Laurie Niles, chair of Slow Food North Valley, board president for Chico Natural Foods Cooperative, Chico, CA; Steph Rooney, School Garden Coordinator at Sunnyside Environmental School, Portland, OR; Ron Askew, Executive Chef at Forest Ridge School, Bellevue, WA;  and Alana Reynolds, Executive Director of Grow Springfield, Springfield, IL.

Each speaker opened with a brief introduction to their local work with school gardens curriculum development and community involvement. 

A few comments from panel members include:

Daniel Mapp, “I am Mohawk from Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. I now manage the Four Bridges’ educational farm in Santa Cruz, New Mexico where we get visitors from all over the world. We specialize in cultivating the Sacred Gardens Project where kids learn from elders in our Agri-Kidz Program. Our kids are now building a house from mud– Adobe style!”

Steph Rooney, “At Sunnyside Environmental School our curriculum includes the history of colonial gardens in USA which guides our work of teaching tolerance by engaging in Courageous Conversations. We sit on the ancestral land of the Chinook people”.

Annie Walsh,” Our after school garden project is designed to move our youth from being passive food consumers to active producers”.

Ron Askew: “I work with 380 students, grades 5-12, at all girls private school Forest Ridge School in Bellevue WA. We adamantly believe that girls can impact change and design our curriculum around that idea. For the past 14 years I have developed the growth of student and community based school gardens and apiaries across campus. Once organic foods and honey are harvested and foraged from campus they enter the school kitchen and are processed, prepared and served to Forest Ridge community for daily lunch service.”

The session ended with questions from attendees and lively discussion. Some of the questions were about climate change and curriculum, challenges of working with administration, garden produce served in school lunches, and Lexicon of Sustainability.

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