Our current Farm to School AmeriCorps member in Pocahontas County, Holly Bradley has visited Linwood Alive Daycare on a few occasions. She reports the following:
Linwood Alive Daycare is unlike any daycare I have ever been to; how the teachers engage with
the children and teach them shapes the appearance both inside and outside of their building. The playground area, contains a more traditional wooden play set in addition to interactive, natural play spaces; tables and chairs for important meetings; and a number of raised garden beds - some with lattices built for cucumbers and squash to climb, making tunnels between beds for children to explore (or bike through!), others with themes including dinosaurs, butterflies, and an herb garden.
It is inspiring to see how excited the students of Linwood Alive become when asked to water the plants, and how many questions they have about growing vegetables. The teachers and staff at Linwood are committed to providing hands-on experiential learning, the playground is more than a place to play, it's a place for interactive learning to happen in a way that excites their students.
What the children learn and harvest from the garden extends to their plates as well. Teachers and staff consider teaching their children about healthy eating and getting them to try new foods important. In the summer, the Daycare runs a program called Free Fresh Fridays, where anyone can bring their child, for no charge, for the whole day. In the mornings, we would cook breakfast with the children, making extra for them to sell at the Farmers' Market later in the evening. Then go outside to the gardens to learn from Jr Master Gardener Curriculum. Afterward, we all made lunch together. It was so fun to watch how excited the kids get to cook. It's amazing how much attention the children gave to preparing the food and how easy it was to keep their interest just by sharing the work with them. I look forward to what Linwood Alive Daycare has in their plans for next season!!
And the Daycare's plans are great: this spring, a high tunnel will be added to their lengthy list of places to grow food (which includes those great raised garden beds and a large community garden plot). The Daycare however, is small in numbers. They have approximately 20 students and 6 teachers and staff. (Here's the awesome part) With all of these spaces for growing, Linwood Alive knows they will produce an abundance. Linwood Alive is looking for an AmeriCorps member who can not only help them plan how they could best utilize their garden spaces but also help them reach out to area farmers, and collect food grown nearby so that other local schools can have access to fresh, delicious, and local grown goodness in their meals too.
If you or someone you know might be interested in helping Linwood Alive Daycare with their Farm to School efforts, please contact us or read more about it here!
Photos complements of Tracey Valach, shared with WV Farm to School on Facebook.