SCHOOL GARDEN FAQ’s
Because gardening and cooking in schools:
Common Threads Food Educators support good teaching and learning through hands-on gardening and cooking. Most activities take place during the school day, with options also for after-school clubs. Learning opportunities span science, math, literacy, history, geography, and nutrition, with an emphasis on:
School gardens, though easy to start, are more challenging to sustain over time in ways that support teachers and enhance student learning. Gardening and cooking with kids require planning time and equipment resources that most teachers cannot realistically invest without the trained support of a Food Educator.
Common Threads places an AmeriCorps Food Educator in each partner school. The Food Educator’s work includes:
Mobile Cooking Cart
Each Food Educator has access to materials for food tasting and preparation activities, and can come prepared to cook with a classroom of up to 30 students. Increasingly, schools are choosing to invest in their own cooking carts, which Common Threads can help to plan for and assemble.
Coordination of Donated Resources
Common Threads’ network of community partners support school gardens with donated materials, including seeds, starts, compost, and wood chips. We are not always able to meet all of each school’s material needs, but we can generally fill most of them at low or no cost. Note – Common Threads does not supply schools with gardening tools nor do we cover the costs of garden installation. We are able to share strategies that other schools have successfully used to obtain materials.
Curricular Reference Materials
Common Threads maintains a library of garden and food related lesson-planning materials that are well-used by Food Educators and available to our partner teachers on loan.
Integration Into a Larger Community of Food Education
Common Threads is connected to local, regional, and national networks of school gardens and farm-to-cafeteria programs. Through the visions, triumphs, and challenges of other organizations, we stay informed on ways to strengthen our approach to successful food education.
Common Threads is a voice for policies that support school-based food education on a district, state, and national level. For instance, Common Threads worked with the Bellingham School District Food Service Staff to implement policies and procedures that allow school garden grown produce to be served in school cafeterias at all of the schools with whom Common Threads partners.
School gardens thrive with the support of dedicated champions within each school community. The Committee is responsible for:
The teacher’s role in gardening or cooking is ideally hands-on, working side-by-side with the Food Educator. The teacher is not responsible for planning or gathering materials for garden or cooking based lessons – that is the responsibility of the Food Educator. The more teachers are able to share things like classroom learning objectives and key vocabulary with Food Educators, the more effectively the Food Educator can support classroom learning.
Yes. Common Threads currently partners with Whatcom and Kulshan Middle Schools. Gardening and cooking seem to find different “homes” in the Middle School setting depending on the needs of the school. For instance, at Whatcom, the garden us used extensively by the 6th grade science teachers and food is grown for the cafeteria.
The model that we find most compelling is the CTE (Career and Technical Education) model currently being used with great success at GRuB in Olympia. High School students at high-risk of dropping out of school are meeting with success in gaining academic credits in a garden based learning environment. With the new Sehome High School being built, the opportunity also exists to consider a culinary arts kitchen using the CTE model.
Garden based learning is well aligned with the design and engineering focus of the Next Generation Science Standards.
SUMMER CAMP FAQ’s
In our open-enrollment youth programs we strive for a 6:1 youth/adult ratio, and guarantee no higher than 8:1. Note that we need a minimum of 6 participants to run a program.
We are fully committed to accommodating people of all abilities. We welcome your call in advance of a program to make sure that we are prepared to meet your child’s special needs.
Most parents drop their children off at the start of a program day and pick them up at the end. You’re always welcome to stay and observe programs – but watch out, we may put you to work!
Many children enjoy showing their parents around at the end of a program day. If you’re interested in a tour with your child, please come 10-15 minutes prior to the end of programming.
Our plants love the rain, and we hope your kids do too. We run programs rain or shine. Please send your child with plenty of warm clothes.
We are happy to offer you a refund (minus a 10% processing fee) up to one week in advance of your program date.
Common Threads is fiercely committed to making sure that lack of family funds is not the reason that youth miss out on our programs. Visit our scholarships for camp page here for further information.
Yes. 10% off for the second child. If you choose to pay full price for your second child, we’ll add it to our scholarship fund.
Yes – within reason. While we’ve had successful 9 year olds in Farm Camp and successful 6 year olds in Camp Pizza, our recommendations are based on what we view as most developmentally appropriate for each program. 3 & 4 year olds should only be signing up for Preschool in the Garden. Please contact us if you have any further questions.
Only in our Preschool in the Garden program or Family Day, and only with an accompanying adult to change the diaper if needed. For all other programs, participants are expected to be potty trained!
We are located at the Outback Farm at WWU. When going along Bill McDonald Parkway, turn north on 25th St. (up the hill) towards the Arboretum. Staff will meet you and your child on 25th St. on the sidewalk across from parking lot 22G and the entrance to the Arboretum (see map below). Pick up occurs in same location.
Parking is limited near the Outback. The most reliable parking option is in the West Lot of Sehome High School, near the baseball diamond. Limited parking spots may be available along 25th St. at our drop-off stop or at the entrance of the Arboretum. Disability parking is available down at the north entrance to the Outback Farm (just south of the Fairhaven Residences) – please contact us to coordinate with you.