At ONFE, we believe that nutrition doesn’t stop at a healthy breakfast – it is enriched and empowered by an understanding of where food comes from, and through encouraging engagement with fresh food from seed to plate.
Kids learn best when they can see, feel, touch and fully experience the subject matter they are studying. That being true, can you think of a better way to teach children about plants and nutrition, and to support healthy eating, than to grow vegetables in the classroom?
Classroom Gardens is a new pilot project that is bringing indoor gardening into grade 3 and 5 classrooms across all four Ottawa school boards. Throughout the school year, and even through the cold winter months, these students are growing plants from seed, and learning in a hands-on way about plant life-cycles, nutrition, and entrepreneurship. Most importantly, students will have the opportunity to eat the food they’ve grow, which is a proven way to get kids excited about eating healthy, fresh vegetables.
This past spring, the newly developed Windowsill Gardens model was incorporated into both the In-Person Learning and Virtual Classroom models. It helped students and teachers to start their own mini gardens at home, planting 4 different edible plant varieties.
We also offered robust support to teachers, with newly developed comprehensive lesson plans, demonstrations, and scientific experiments.
About the Program
Poor nutrition is linked with many chronic and costly health conditions including obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, and hyperactivity among children. Growing food in the classroom is proven way to get kids excited about eating healthy fresh vegetables, while learning about nutrition, entrepreneurship, and the wide range of career choices related to food. Learning about healthy food at school is especially critical for the one in five children in Ottawa who live in poverty. Not surprisingly, there is a direct link between nutrition and household income.
Now in our fifth year of Classroom Gardens, ONFE is partnering with elementary schools and high schools across Ottawa’s four public school boards to bring this program to students. Classroom Gardens engages students of all ages (with a special focus on grade 3 classes) in planting, growing, harvesting, and most importantly, tasting and enjoying their own classroom garden vegetables. Each indoor classroom garden can grow up to 50 edible plants at a time, all year long. That’s a lot of healthy food to share with students, their families, and their neighbourhoods!
This spring we have 4018 participating students and 217 teachers.
Classroom Gardens engages local teachers and students in creating and tending to indoor gardens. Targeted lesson plans and growing programs connect hands-on gardening activities with curriculum goals in a variety of subjects. Students gain a better understanding of plants, food supply and demand, nutrition and healthy eating, and food-related careers.
Fuel kids – ignite learning
Classroom Gardens is offered at schools with ONFE’s School Breakfast Program, linking nutritious food with nutrition education.
Are you a gardener? Join our journey!
Follow along on social as students and teachers grow food in classrooms and at home. Share your own garden photos to connect!
Support Ottawa kids
Just like all ONFE programs, Classroom Gardens is offered at no charge to students to remain accessible. Help us teach kids about healthy food and the growing cycle.