21st Century Community Learning Centers Indoor Garden
School gardening in Alaska, with less than four months of frost-free temperatures, can be a challenge. The Alaska Botanical Garden (ABG) in partnership with the Anchorage School District’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers program (21st CCLC) has taken a new approach to gardening with youth. With snow falling outside and temperatures dropping below zero, over 300 youth in four 21st CCLC after-school programs are planting seeds, watering and tasting fresh vegetables and herbs.
The 21st CCLC program serves Title 1 schools in the Anchorage area, providing engaging academic, cultural and recreational activities for students and families outside of regular school hours. ABG has partnered with four 21st CCLC programs – Fairview Elementary, North Star Elementary, Begich Middle, and the Alaska Native Cultural Charter School. These four schools are in Anchorage’s lowest-income neighborhoods - areas with high poverty and few affordable after-school alternatives. They also serve high proportions of English Language Learner (ELL), immigrant, homeless, and Alaska Native families. The 2013-2014 school year started the beginning of a five year project to engage youth in experiential science activities by allowing youth involved in 21st CCLC to growing greens and herbs using organic indoor growing systems. Youth are able to explore across curricula in science, nutrition, mathematics, language arts and the creative arts by taking part in growing and cooking food from seed to table. Youth also visit ABG through field trips twice each year to explore winter tree identification, soils, composting, insects and more.
This funding will provide materials for vegetables starts to be sent home with youth so their families can continue growing over the summer. It will also allow ABG to provide information on how and where to garden in Anchorage as well as additional ingredients for cooking demonstrations during family nights and in the classroom.
KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.
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