The Good EGG (Good Edible Grassroots Garden) Program
“The Good EGG (Good Edible Grassroots Garden) program provides support for schools in creating and maintaining an edible garden. Food grown in the garden can be used for school nutrition programs, or donated to local food banks, community kitchens, and families in need of food.“
What is the Good EGG Program?
The Good EGG (Good Edible Grassroots Garden) Program is being piloted in several schools throughout Renfrew County, with participants from the French, English, Catholic and public school boards. This initiative addresses the root causes of hunger and poverty in the community and seeks to overcome such barriers by promoting teamwork, inclusivity and healthy eating.
Poverty consultations have revealed that parents would love to send their children to school with nutritious food, and children have commented that they would like `different foods` and `new kinds of food, like fruit.` Support from the community has been overwhelmingly positive so far, and research has revealed many expected and unexpected benefits from growing a garden. Even setbacks can be beneficial, because they teach the importance of flexibility and resiliency, both in the context of growing a garden as well as in day-to-day life.
Benefits of the Good EGG Program
Growing local school gardens has many positive impacts:
- Healthy Eating. Students learn about the importance of nutritious eating habits, which in turn promotes physical and mental health. The program encourages participants to grow their own food, and eat locally-grown, wholesome produce.
- Inclusivity. Everyone is encouraged to work together in a fun and non-competitive manner. This gives students a sense of belonging, and promotes collaboration from all participants.
- Community Service. This program gives youth the opportunity to work for their community, which encourages them to make productive, service-oriented use of their time in the future. Participants donate to those in need and volunteer their time.
- Physical Activity. Growing a school garden is a great way for students to practice what they learn. Tilling the garden, planting seeds and weeding are all hands-on activities that promote physical activity in an outdoor environment.
- Environmental Sustainability. This program teaches children and youth the importance of protecting and preserving the environment, and encourages them to adapt eco-friendly practices in the future.
- Teamwork. Planting a garden is undoubtedly a teamwork-oriented effort. Students of all ages collaborate together to maintain their community garden.
Children that are hungry at school often find it hard to concentrate. Research connects nutritious food with positive physical and mental health, and better academic success. Growing a community garden also helps foster a sense of belonging and purpose, and gives these children a chance to feel fully included. Participants improve social skills, build friendships and learn to compromise.
Incorporating a garden into school can also be a fun and enjoyable way for students to put what they learn into practice as well. Gardening can be integrated into virtually every subject in school! For example:
- Math – Symmetry and patterns in plants, area required for a garden, volume of soil or water needed to maintain a garden, comparison of costs of healthy foods vs. unhealthy foods
- Science – Plant biology, photosynthesis, parts of a plant, classification of plants
- Geography – Soil demographics, impacts of weather and climate on plants and agriculture
- History – Old vs. new agricultural practices
- Languages – Poems and stories about plants and gardens, essays describing the benefits of planting a garden or buying local food
- Physical Activity – Tilling, planting and weeding a garden all promote physical activity outside
- Tech Class – Build garden structures, plan for needed resources, design layout for garden
- Art Class – Create, reflect and explore artistic contexts by integrating student’s sensory, cognitive, emotional, and motor skills
The Good EGG Program clearly has a valuable educational component as well.
Youth leaders at each school will provide leadership within their school for the Good EGG Program participants. Their responsibilities will mainly consist of helping to lead groups that are conducting research, designing the garden, preparing the soil, planting the seeds and tending the crops. The leaders will also help evaluate the success of the program, and help to communicate with volunteers, sponsors and donors as necessary. Adult allies will help supervise and advise when needed.
Each school will also have a garden club/group (or eco-club/group). These clubs/groups meet once a month to address poverty in the community and discuss ways that their garden can help. They will also have the ability to connect to other Good EGG school clubs/groups to share good practices, ideas, and resources if needed.
We will help youth engage the community by preparing public/school presentations, writing letters asking for help, and thanking others for their help. Youth will also have the opportunity to attend workshops that incorporate healthy eating, cooking and gardening. Local garden experts and seniors are encouraged to help provide support as well.
Our hope is that participants in this program will transfer knowledge into their home, thereby encouraging others to grow fresh produce, buy local food, and eat healthy.
The Good EGG Program also helps to foster community collaboration. Students are given the opportunity to learn about their role in their local community, while showing the public that children and youth can be productive, supportive citizens.
We will measure the overall success of the program with both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Quantitative measures include logs that record the time and work carried out by everyone, sponsorships and donations, types and amount of produce grown, and where the produce was used. Qualitative measures include surveys, focus groups and feedback.
Our belief is that community gardens can be used as a tool to help overcome poverty in Renfrew County. With the Good EGG Program, we can help inform local children and youth of the importance of eating nutritious food, while encouraging community service, collaboration, physical activity and environmental sustainability. It is our hope that every school start to grow edible produce, this would allow all children the opportunity to eat fresh, locally-grown nutritious food.
If you would like to find out more about the Good EGG program please contact us