Look at the grounds of many elementary schools around Ann Arbor, and besides the standard-issue playground equipment and flora, you'll see another type of landscaping: edible gardens.
"To the best of our knowledge, there are eight or nine school gardens at the elementary level," says Elissa Trumbull, a founding board member of Agrarian Adventure
, an Ann Arbor nonprofit that supports school gardening and food production efforts. The Ann Arbor Preschool and Family Center also has raised garden beds, while Tappan Middle School has a garden, fruit trees, and a passive solar greenhouse.
"The growth in school gardens that we're seeing in Ann Arbor Public Schools is reflective of what we're seeing on a nation-wide level," she adds.
There is no count of aggregate food production between all the schools, Trumbull says. Crops are being used for class lessons, special events, and donations to food gatherers and food pantries.
The produce grown is not currently being served in cafeterias. In a pilot program last year, salad greens and radishes grown for 7th grade coursework at Tappan Middle School were served in all the middle school cafeterias in the Ann Arbor district. "That is unprecedented in the country as far as I know, working with a district of this scale [that already has] a contracted food service provider," she says. The district contract with Chartwells.
"Nationwide, school gardeners are convening and working towards finding safe and healthy ways to have school garden-grown food included in school lunch programs."
Source: Elissa Trumbull, founding board member of Agrarian Adventure
Writer: Tanya Muzumdar