CSU Grasp Gardeners train college students learn how to develop wholesome meals

May 27, 2021

Last week, Arapahoe County volunteer master gardeners helped 274 Clayton Elementary students in Grade K-6 plant a vegetable garden. The volunteers shared an outdoor lesson describing the parts of a plant and their functions.

The students planted their plots with the vegetables they had previously selected in class. Harvests at Clayton Garden include lettuce and edible flowers, ingredients for salsa – tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, and coriander; Cucumbers, summer and winter squash and pumpkins. Plants for pollinators have also been added to the garden.

Throughout the summer, the volunteer master gardeners help teachers, students and community members with the care of the vegetable patches and with solving problems. Every month volunteers give a lesson on a hot gardening topic.

The school has had a community garden shared with Denver Urban Gardens for 10 years. However, Clayton’s teachers needed additional training and support to make them more effective. “Our teachers are thrilled that the master gardeners will offer training this year,” said Lorraine Cahill of Clayton Elementary School. “Many of them have expressed how little they know about gardening and how grateful they are for the support.”

With expertise and extensive experience in providing civic and youth science education, CSU Extension meets a community need when programming in underserved communities. Research shows that participation in school gardens contributes to improved academic and economic outcomes.

“Youth and community development work is very important to Arapahoe County and we want to see communities thriving and support a high quality of life here,” said Tim Aston, director of CSU Extension. “This program provides much-needed, hands-on, experiential learning and a creative way to engage local neighborhood communities at a time when we are all united and ready to go outside. The pandemic has highlighted the economic fragility of many homes and facilities of communities with this knowledge give them the resources to tackle food insecurity and improve their self-sufficiency. “

Clayton Elementary is a K-6 school in the Englewood School District with a student body that consists of more than 75% children at risk. Additional curriculum modules for youth gardening will be added in the second year of the pilot program.

This work complements the support the CSU expansion is already providing to students in greenhouses at Cherry Creek High School and Littleton High School. The Arapahoe County’s CSU expansion office, which is part of the Open Spaces division, is a trusted resource locally and throughout Colorado known for providing education and programs that protect health, improve livelihoods, and wellbeing improve.

For information on Arapahoe County’s CSU expansion programs, visit https://arapahoe.extension.colostate.edu/.

This news release was prepared by the Arapahoe County government. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

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