Early Childhood Education
At the Farm & in the Classroom
Evergreen’s garden-based programs use age-appropriate sensory exploration to introduce concepts and encourage appreciation for the outdoors.
Head Start Preschool & Pre-K Growing in the Garden
Designed for children in Head Start Preschool & Pre-K, this program serves approximately 260 children (14 classes) at all seven centers in Allegany County. The children are brought to the Evergreen farm for a half-day field trip, and Evergreen educators visit each class to deliver additional reinforcing programs ranging from seed and vegetable discovery to wildlife exploration. From creating Seed Houses to planting Garden Window boxes, children gain a better understanding of how their world works.
Elementary Edibles, a hands-on education program developed by the EHC Foundation and its partners, focuses on food science and nutrition, teaching children where their foods come from and how it grows, with the goal of increasing food/agricultural literacy and influencing consumption of healthy foods. Elementary Edibles is aligned with the Maryland State Curriculum and supports National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes (as developed by the USDA and partners) that include teaching children about agriculture.
Under the Elementary Edibles program, each grade level (K-5) grows a different vegetable, culminating in student/parent salad bar events (one per grade level). Kindergarten students will taste, learn about and plant radishes, 1st-grade mini broccoli, 2nd-grade lettuce, 3rd-grade spinach, 4th-grade snap peas, and 5th-grade herbs. All vegetables and herbs are grown in window box gardens in classrooms. Teachers are also provided grow lights for those classrooms without adequate natural light and/or may experiment with natural versus artificial lights to provide opportunities for scientific investigations. Students care for their plants each day and have a follow-up lesson to check on garden progress. In May, EHC in conjunction with school lunch invites parents and students to a salad bar lunch. Providing the opportunity to taste the same categories of vegetables grown by all grade levels.
The Elementry Edibles program serves 574 children in 35 classrooms in Allegany County.
2018 South Penn Results
- Grade-Level Wide Student Participation: 439 South Penn Elementry School K-5 students (405 or 90% was the target) and all 22 of their teachers participated
- Parent Involvement: An average of 81% of the parents participated in the salad bar lunch, as opposed to the target of 35%.
- Increased Science Literacy: 23 to 27% increase in science literacy was measured per the pre/post tests administered to students. The target was 25%.
- Increased Healthy eating: Approximately, 50% of the students were willing to try new foods prior to the pilot. 100% were willing to try their vegetable/ herb as a result of the pilot. Opposed to the target of 10%.
- Quality Experiential Education: 100% of the participating teachers rated the program as very good to excellent for content, instruction, and program overall: 80% rated it as excellent for all three metrics.
- Easily Replicated Program Methodology: 90% of teachers strongly agreed that Elementary Edibles is a doable program that can be replicated at other schools; the remaining 10% agreed.