School greenhouse grows interest in healthy eating and agriculture

Small Towns

By Jackie Janssen

Here in Litchfield, Nebraska, we not only get to enjoy all of the wonderful vegetables at lunch, but we also get to use the greenhouse as a learning experience. We are fortunate to have a local businessman who built a greenhouse for the Litchfield Public School to use.

Last year was the pilot year for this project.  The first thing we had to do was to organize a committee to work with the greenhouse manager. Our committee consists of: the school principal, the head cook, the school nurse, the high school FFA instructor, and an elementary coordinator.

At the beginning of the year, our high school FFA students helped to set up tables, pots, soil, and the irrigation system. The elementary students were able to go down and help put soil in the pots. What fun they had playing with dirt! The upper elementary students were able to help plant a lot of the vegetables. Our kindergarten through second grades planted garlic and onions in cups that they were able to take home later in the year.

In the classroom, we used our newfound knowledge in a lot of journal writing. For our end of the year project, we decided to have the students host an open house for parents and community members. Our fifth and sixth grade students were divided into pairs and assigned a vegetable. They had to research the vegetable, create a small report, and be prepared to share the information during the open house. They also had recipes to show different ways in which their vegetable could be used.

Our high school FFA students were the greeters during the open house. They helped serve food, and tried to answer the many questions people had about the greenhouse operations. The fifth and sixth graders were stationed at their vegetable table and gave information about each one. The night was a huge success!

Our pilot year for the greenhouse was well worth the time. We have noticed that the kids are a lot more willing to eat vegetables that they help grow! We hope to incorporate even more activities this year.