At TPS we extend our country classroom into the city for our preschoolers and kindergarteners through our lush organic Garden on our South Street property. The Garden puts the natural world at our preschoolers and kindergarteners fingertips by providing a living laboratory where life's lessons are experienced and learned; it deepens their sense of connections, seasons, and place as well. They plant seeds, pull weeds, water vegetables, observe butterflies, and dig for worms. These activities give our young students a rich context for exploring science, nutrition, social studies, math, language arts, while creating a sense of responsibility and service to other living things.
By growing and eating vegetables they have planted, our students learn to see themselves as part of natural cycles. Through our Seed to Table program, each student participates in planting, tending, and harvesting fruits and vegetables. Once the plants are harvested, the students prepare, serve, and eat the food. This helps to deepen their appreciation and connection to what they eat and the interrelationships that occur in order to grow a seed into something you eat. For our city kids to experience food up close and personal, rather than just at the grocery store or a meal already prepared for them, is an eye-opening opportunity to explore the complexities at both the growing and the eating ends of our food chain.
There are many ways we use the Seed to Table program as part of our curriculum. Sometimes students will go on a “snacking trip” through the Garden, where they pluck raspberries or cherry tomatoes and pop them right into their mouths, experiencing the freshest food possible. At other times they they harvest basil, tomatoes and peppers and try their hand at preparing a Mexican dish while speaking in Spanish. They might hone their math skills by measuring the growth of an eggplant, or they might count how many seeds are in the pumpkin they grew and then roast the seeds for a snack.