BLUE RIDGE, GA – Blue Ridge Elementary School (BRES) students participated in a mid-morning gathering and cooking activity hosted by Ingles Supermarkets, Dole Packaged Foods, and Captain Planet Foundation to celebrate their Project Learning Garden and Sustainable Initiative.
BRES received a “learning garden” grant from Ingles and Dole in 2019 for their on-campus garden to teach students about growing their own vegetables and living sustainably. The school changes out the plants with each season.
Assistant Principal Gini Bell commented that the kids love the garden and during tomato season, they were outside picking handfuls daily to take home.
Currently, strawberries, peppers, green beans, and lettuce are growing and students harvest them. They also have a cooking class every two weeks to learn about preparing food.
Tasha Gomes, the Learning Garden Manager with the Captain Planet Foundation led the children throughout the presentation. She taught them how to sauté vegetables, season meals, and properly use a knife.
She also instructed the children to not “yuck anyone’s yum” explaining that everyone had different tastes and not to make anyone feel bad for liking something different.
All the students eagerly ate their sautéed green beans and salad, grown and prepared by themselves. Many agreeing that they would like to eat these meals again.
The Captain Planet Foundation began in 1991 and was founded by Ted Turner and Barbara Pyle. It’s based on the cartoon, Captain Planet and the Planeteers and strives to ensure that the next generation is environmentally conscious. The organization has conducted over 2,000 hands-on environmental education projects with schools and non-profits that serve children in all 50 U.S. states and in 23 countries internationally.
The Project Learning Garden program provides a context for multidisciplinary learning, ranging from nutrition and science to social studies, math and language arts. Students benefit by expanding their palates, taste-testing healthy foods, and learning about food origins; engaging in authentic science field investigations; manipulating the environment to understand math in real-life applications; recreating historical activities; and writing across all these disciplines.
Only four schools received the grant from Dole and Ingles in 2019, which marked the second year that the organizations partnered to offer Project Learning Gardens to schools in Ingles’ market area. Ingles Grocery stores cover six southeastern states with its headquarters in Asheville, NC.
Ingles works with local farmers to carry more local food than its competitors, and the company has donated more than 18 million dollars to local schools through its Tools for Schools program. The two programs together teach children the cycle of food is a great opportunity for all.