September is a month of beginnings – the beginning of the school year, the beginning of fall – and at John Muir Elementary School, it marked the beginning of our monthly Salad Days.
For those not familiar with Salad Days, the tradition began in 2015 as an initiative to give students access to fresh produce and to get them excited about eating healthy. Since John Muir students also participate in our Environmental Education classes, Salad Days allow them to be fully engaged in all the steps of the garden process: planting, cultivating, harvesting, and most importantly, eating!
Our founder Barbara Wenger says her earliest memories of Salad Day are of seeing CommunityGrows Garden Educators work to prepare the salads and then walk through the cafeteria during each grade’s shift. “The kids loved our Garden Educators and would always raise their hands for more salad!” In particular, students seem to really enjoy the apples and cucumbers mixed in the salads. The Italian dressing is also a crowd favorite with the kids and the teachers!
Adrian Almquist, Garden Programs Manager and Educator at John Muir, says that his favorite part about salad days are when kids come up to ask him for seconds.
Salad Days happen just once a month, but the youth we support are all about it. “It’s exciting when they get excited about salad,” says Melissa Tang, Director of Programs at CommunityGrows. “In the beginning of the school year, they aren’t always interested when you offer them salad. But then, towards the end of the school year, they are all in line with their trays.” It’s a great experience for both staff and students!
CommunityGrows is fortunate to have sponsors who generously donate to our monthly Salad Days. While students help grow produce through our Environmental Education classes, our Seed to Mouth programs create a bigger demand than our gardens can supply! This Fall, we want to give a shout out and say thank you to our partners at Heart of the City Farmer’s Market and our local Safeway on Webster Street for donating to our salad days. We deeply appreciate your help!