Youth Grow provides hands-on education in school gardens to help all children feel accepted and empowered to make conscious choices, become stewards of the environment, share their culture and increase community resiliency.
What We Do
During the 2020-2021 we have pivoted to provide innovative programming:
- Distance Learning
- Using a combination of virtual class sessions (often from the gardens), 33 videos and corresponding online activities, Youth Grow educators still interacted with hundreds of students. Check out the Youth Grow YouTube channel with video lessons! These lessons are utilized by over 100 teachers to enhance distance learning activities at 10 schools. Each month we produce two online lessons per grade K-5. Lessons are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards, and focus on topic such as plant parts, habitats, animal structure and functions, food origins, and ecosystems.
- Garden Explorer and Cooking Kits
- The Youth Grow team designed, assembled and distributed 2691 Garden Explorer kits to keep kids learning and gardening at home and 1626 Cooking Kits. The activities included in the Garden Explorer kits included supplies to grow microgreens, radishes, beets and peas at home, along with activity books, magnifying glasses, lavender, herbs, and seed heads. There were different age-appropriate activities designed for the high school and middle school SUN clubs, such as supplies to propagate native plants or test soil pH. Cooking Kits were designed to be culturally-reflective of different school communities. Kits included: organic yakisoba noodles and veggies, collard greens and cornbread, supplies to make corn tortillas by hand, locally-grown popcorn on the cob, North African couscous with snap peas, sampling of local apples, onigiri (rice balls), bread from scratch and others.
- Pre-K Kits
- The team created and assembled 1019 Early Learner kits distributed at 5 Head starts/pre-K/Kindergarten programs associated with our partner schools. Each kit related to an environmental theme and included hands-on activities. Kit themes included: bees (including costume bee wings), pinecones (understanding the biological function, and supplies to decorate them), growing windowsill flowers, leaves (leaf rubbing, plant identification, magnifying glass), and worm sock puppets.
- Virtual Afterschool Clubs
- At David Douglas High School, we taught SUN Club which focuses on gardening, cooking and the skills to teach younger students these topics, as well as a Food Justice Club, for 6 students per club. In conjunction with Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN), we also taught a new Garden Club at Ockley Green middle school. All students received take-home garden and cooking supplies and then followed along with live class engagement online. A total of 124 live club sessions were delivered by Growing Gardens’ Food System Educator, engaging an estimated 30 students.
- In-person Programming
- Community Food System Internship
- In the summer of 2020 we debuted our Community Food System Internship program, a paid internship for 3 high schoolers focused on leadership development and understanding community food systems from environmental, political, and personal perspectives. In partnership with David Douglas High School, we established a hybrid model of in-person gardening combined with virtual activities designed to expose interns to issues of food systems, food security, and food justice. We are currently running this internship program again this summer (2021).
- Organic Produce Donations
- Youth grow harvested vegetables and donate them to families at school-based food pantries. 1200 lbs of organic produce were shared with families at school-based pantries over the last year.
Once schools opened up in a hybrid way, our Educators began to teach small groups of students in the gardens again. This spring, the Growing Gardens team led 111 in person sessions with 30 teachers, reaching an estimated 450 students.
Lead garden-based education during the school day, afterschool and summer to engage kids in science and interdisciplinary learning while building skills of classroom teachers. Each year we teach over 2000 students during the school day and 300 in afterschool Garden Clubs
Improve access to and child enthusiasm for healthy fruits and vegetables. We grow produce to donate to the cafeteria, offer in taste-tests and give to families.
Inspire Environmental Stewards
Inspire the next generation of environmental conservationists. We get kids outside to have hands-on experiences with the biodiversity of nature. Lessons that connect to the big picture (soil fertility, pollination, carbon cycle, climate, etc.)
Facilitate intergenerational and multicultural community-building. Last year we participated in over 50 school events to connect families around common interests in gardens and food.
Focus on Sustainability
Build the skills, sense of ownership and resources to ensure that garden programs continue beyond GG’s partnership with each school.
Build a Movement
Play a leadership role in the regional movement to expand and sustain school garden programs for more children, teachers and families.
Where we Work
Our current school partners are:
- Faubion K-8
- Lent K-8
- Kelly K-5
- Whitman K-5
- Scott K-5
- Cherry Park K-5
- Glenfair K-5
- Davis K-5
- Powell Butte K-5
- Patrick Lynch K-5
- David Douglas High School
- Ockley Green Middle School
To apply for a school partnership, please contact our Youth Grow Program Manager Amoreena. Youth Grow takes on new commitments as funding allows and seeks opportunities for joint fundraising.