Friday, September 6, 2013

Olivia Park Elementary School Honored for its Bountiful Garden

The following is reprinted by permission of the author, Leah Abell, of Whole Foods:

Staff members at Olivia Park, community members and 80 family members gathered at the Olivia Park Garden on August 27 to enjoy a “Feast from the Garden,” hosted by the Lynnwood Whole Foods Market. The dinner featured dishes made from produce grown in the garden, combined with food donated by Whole Foods Market. The purpose of the meal was to celebrate and honor the school’s beautiful garden, its bounty and those who contributed to the success of the garden.
Mary-Kate Olsen, teacher and coordinator of the garden project, explained that Whole Foods Market is very passionate about eating healthy and helping people achieve that goal. She said the market has partnered with Olivia Park and its garden project since the opening of its Lynnwood store last year. Olivia Park also received one of the first garden grants from the Whole Kids Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Whole Foods that is dedicated to helping kids eat better—and enjoy it! The recent grant funded a shed and hoop house to help grow foods in the colder months. More than 20 Whole Foods team members also have volunteered their time working the garden.

The Olivia Park Garden was originally founded 12 years ago by John Smith, then a teacher at the school. He planted apple trees and grew flowers around the area. The garden was re-established in January 2010 by the school’s PTA, families, staff, and community partnerships. The garden is now used by teachers to integrate hands-on science and math lessons that are aligned with curriculum. Teachers around the area also have learned more about agricultural engineering and integrating other STEM concepts by using the garden. 
The Olivia Park Garden grows a bountiful amount of rhubarb, kale, lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, beans, peas, corn, squash, artichokes, pumpkins, tomatoes, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, currants, grape, plums, and apples at different times throughout the year.
The garden is maintained by Olivia Park students, families and community members who volunteer their time. Other families and community members who want to volunteer to harvest fruit and vegetables can do so on Thursdays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. 
Extra harvest is sold at the South Everett Farmer’s Market through the nonprofit, Farmer Frog, a non-profit organization devoted to teaching people to grow food in cities. All proceeds from sales go back to the garden.

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