Audubon Elementary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

Students at Audubon Elementary are learning about healthy eating beginning at an early age. Kindergarten students recently harvested fruits and vegetables from the school’s garden to be served at lunch that day.

“Children are more willing to try different foods if they are involved in growing them,” said Audubon teacher Sydna Barocco.

Barocco began the garden last year with a grant from Healthier Generation. This year, she received grants from the LSU Agriculture Center and Fuel Up to Play 60 to integrate the garden into Audubon’s curriculum. Today, every grade level participates by growing seeds and completing lessons.

Kendra Gore’s kindergarten class learns about gardening in every class.

“I want them to learn about healthy food. We live in this fast food environment and I want them to learn where food comes from because they don’t see it on a daily basis,” Gore said.

Gore is now working to expand the school garden program through where teachers can submit detailed information about their project, request support, and donors can choose to give money to the project. Gore’s current request is for basic gardening materials like watering cans small enough for the students to use independently, small spades and starter pallets in which to plant seeds.

Future projects for her class, says Gore, include incubating and hatching chickens and setting up a coop and run.

Students are not the only ones who are encouraged to eat healthy through this program at Audubon. The school’s wellness team also hosts events in which parents can join, including the annual parent breakfast and family wellness nights, both popular events with families.

Barocco said that parents can be engaged in the school’s wellness efforts by helping plan what will be served for meals and snacks, as well as taking an active role by volunteering after school to help with the wellness team.

Fifth grader Savanna Meyers, a member of the wellness team, says she enjoys working on the team.

“It’s really fun,” she said. “At wellness night, we play games and have door prizes, and students do ballroom dancing.”

Eduardo Jrquin is also a fifth grader and a member of the wellness team. He says that he believes that wellness nights are very important because they help keep the whole family in shape and healthy for life.

Audubon students also participate in Fuel Up to Play 60, which emphasizes physical activity, as a complement to healthy eating and wellness programs.  Student Rodney Jackson says he likes the program.

“We fuel up with nutritious foods and then go outside to play for 60 minutes,” he said.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, the gardens sport signage from the school’s art class including some by student Madison Uli, who painted with signs with a few of her friends. Uli says they designed the sign with cartoon vegetables to reflect what was currently growing in the garden.

A number of partners are essential to the success of the gardens, says Barocco. Participating partners currently include Ochsner Health Systems, Wal Mart, Healthy Lifestyle Choices, and the Grace King High School Pro Start team.