Kindergartners at Daleville Community Schools are sowing the fruits – and vegetables – of their labor through a hands-on teaching them valuable lessons about growing and eating healthy food. The district is using a $50,000 farm-to-school grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to teach students how to plant, grow and harvest fruits and veggies, but they’re also eating that food in the school cafeteria. Superintendent Greg Roach says the effort will help students to make healthier choices as they get older.

In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Roach said the effort is an extension of the district’s outdoor learning environment.

“We have an extensive area outside called our Outdoor Learning Lab that contains over 100 apple trees and it is part of that area and this grant has just enabled us to capitalize on what we already have – to add and extend it to our kindergartners to get them involved in the program,” said Roach.

Roach says the program started with students planting their own vegetables in the fall and they continue to watch them grow, but more is being done.

“The grant also enabled us to install an 80×20 greenhouse that we can utilize throughout the winter and early spring to start plants as we go through,” he said. “We were able to hire a horticulturist who oversees the entire program and also goes into the kindergarten classroom and provides lessons on growing plants and proper techniques to make sure they thrive.”

Roach says the goal is to teach students about more than just planting and growing.

“We want them to understand that it’s cheaper and readily accessible in our time right now of supply and demand issues; it’s always out in their garden if they’ve properly raised the food and then, also just to have an enjoyable, lifelong activity that they can do throughout the rest of their lives and maybe even take it home to their family and start a garden themselves if they don’t already have one.”