July Farm to School Partner Highlight

Jon Wirth is the School Garden Coordinator for Education Coordinator and School Garden Manager at DC Prep’s Elementary Campuses in Edgewood, Benning, and Anacostia in Washington, DC. In his role he facilitates experiential learning with a core focus on food, and produce procurement for DC Prep’s SGM program.

This month we asked him, “When was your Farm to School ‘aha’ moment?” Here’s his reply:

jworthAs the School Garden Coordinator for DC Prep’s Elementary Campuses in Edgewood, Benning, and Anacostia, I have the opportunity to garden with our young people every day.  We learn about water retention, germination, pollination, soil (err, “dirt”) and much else.  So much else that I’ve taken to framing our many lessons through a single lens:  food.  We don’t tackle large policy questions around food security or municipal waste streams, or ag production questions like, “How much can we produce?  How quickly can we produce it? Or, how quickly can we get it to consumers?”

Rather, I encourage our students to experience the garden in all of its gustatory wonder.  To think like worms, butterflies, and bees.  “Why are there worms in the soil?”  Food.  “Why are there insects in the air?”  Food.  “Why are we in the garden?” Food!  These are simplifications to be sure, but they serve an important purpose.  Urban gardens are science laboratories and exercise studios and centers of civic engagement.  But they are also the best chance we have for assuring that our young people have a healthy relationship to food.  My personal “aha moment” came in the last week of school.  A heat wave and impending summer thunderstorm kept us indoors.  We are in the middle of making a favorite guacamole recipe …
“2 cloves garlic”
Marvin’s on the garlic.
“2 juicy limes”
Nasiah’s on the limes.
Another teacher walks in, takes a whiff and asks the student next to her,
“What are you all making Duron?”
“We’re making BUG FOOOOD!”
I’ll take it.