Teaching Garden at Point Dume Elementary, Malibu

Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School in Malibu, California, has received numerous accolades for its environmental advocacy programs, including the Environmental Sustainability Award from state Sen. Fran Pavley and the California Business for Excellent Education Award in 2006 through 2010.

Now an education program officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Chi Kim was principal of Point Dume for nine years. Here, she describes how Nourish helps Point Dume students connect their school garden to their food choices.

Our marine and environmental science programs were flourishing, and with the addition of 33 solar panels, the school became a model of living what we teach.

The challenge was to build on what we had already created, and the natural balance for our school was to go from taking care of our oceans and our climate to taking care of ourselves. It was also important to balance out the incredible amount of high-tech devices our students use daily. We became the ultimate environmentalists: we began to garden.

Our Teaching Garden started in June of 2009. Students planted our organic garden before leaving for the summer, and when they returned, the garden had flourished. Staff and volunteers worked with students to plant, harvest, and cook throughout that school year.

Our pilot year was good and the harvest fresh. Although they enjoyed the lessons and activities, our students were still not fully aware of why organic gardening was important.

When I was gifted Nourish, we began using the curriculum. The students really began to make the connection. The images on the clips coupled with thought- and conversation-provoking questions led to deeper understanding of the importance of knowing where our food comes from before we make the choice to consume it.

Nourish, coupled with our Teaching Garden program, created a powerful union. After six weeks of lessons, our students began to change habits and influence their family. These are just a few examples of what our students learned from Nourish:

“I learned about what I was eating and how it affects me in my body. Sometimes they put chemicals on the fruits and sometimes they change the fruits and vegetables structure. I learned that organic fruits and vegetables are better for you because their farming practices are simple. They don’t use preservatives or chemicals.”

“I learned about the hormones that they put into the cows and how it could affect the hamburgers, meat, and milk…actually, I only eat turkey burgers.”

“I learned how they got the seeds, and how they grew them. I saw how they compared the fruit with no chemicals and the fruit with chemicals. It made me want find out if the food that I was eating was chemical free or processed in some way.”

“Now I eat healthy foods because we stopped buying a lot of candy and Gatorade and stuff. Now when I go into the refrigerator, we have strawberries, carrots, apples, celery, and every once in awhile, I’ll eat something that’s not so healthy like chips. We started making kale chips though, in our dehydrator, and that’s really good.”

“The gardening at school made me want to try it at home. I started growing my own vegetables at home and called it The Secret Garden.”

“You have to feed yourself the good foods so that you can stay alert and healthy”.

“Eating healthy means that I can avoid getting diabetes.”

“The videos teach you so much. It teaches you what you put into your body and how our choices can make a difference.”

“Vote with your fork means that you might not be able to vote politically, but my family can decide what we buy at the store.”

Nourish is powerful. Its simplicity and thoughtful message will have a lasting impact on our students.

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