As the New Year begins at CGG, we take valuable time to reflect on both where we have been and where we want to go. Last semester showed a slowdown in our youth garden classes, but this spring they are beginning again with new fervor. We have doubled the number of middle school classes we hold in our garden, while holding our number of preschool and high school classes steady. As a result, we welcome around 250 students from local schools into our garden for classes each month. Common Ground Garden enjoys the unique privilege of being located within walking distance of almost 3,000 students, aged pre K-12 th grade. This allows us to work closely with Young Life Preschool, Terman Middle School, and Gunn High School to run monthly garden classes for students of all ages.
In addition to our regular classes with these three schools, we offer field trips to all schools in the San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. We work hard to make our field trips financially accessible to all. Thanks to a grant from Palo Alto Holiday Fund, we offer free field trips to qualifying Title 1 schools. This year, we hope to focus our lessons to include more material on nutrition and sustainable food production. The prevalence of fast food in our society is a huge detriment to the health of our most vulnerable populations, including children and typically marginalized communities. Without a taste for, or access to fresh local foods, the health of our community is in danger. Currently, 75% of all money spent on healthcare in America goes to prevent chronic, preventable diseases. More than half of that money is spent treating the long-term effects of a poor diet.* Our educational programs this year will take action to address this nutritional crisis in America.
With our high school classes from Gunn, we already focus on grain production and cooking food that has been grown, harvested, and processed in the garden. We will expand on this program, and also introduce it to the middle school groups. By the end of the semester, we aim to have each student try a fresh vegetable they haven’t had before, and understand the process through which grains are processed and packaged for the grocery store. When students think of flour, we want them to picture harvesting, threshing, and milling stalks of wheat – not a white substance that appears magically in the baking aisle. By emphasizing healthy foods and a true understanding of where they come from, we hope to improve the overall health of our 250 regular students.