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SO - Mitchell Math and Science Elementary

Charleston, SC

Kids at Mitchell Math and Science Elementary know “if you want to be green, you gotta get dirty.”

Mitchell Math and Science Elementary invovles the eintire school in living a healthy lifestyle in the garden, the cafateria, and otuside of the classrom.

The school garden consists of an outdoor classroom gazebo, raised experimental beds for classes to carry out science experiments, an herb spiral comprised of a variety of culinary herbs, a native species border with pollinator plants and a 5,500 square foot, fully-irrigated micro-farm that grows edible plants to be tasted and shared with students in the cafeteria.  To make things even sweeter, Mitchell houses a small fruit orchard of citrus and blueberries.  The entire garden encompasses 12,000 square feet of the school yard and playground.

The $2,000 of the Whole Foods Grant was spent on several items for general maintenance and enhancements.  The school’s edible 'micro-farm' was in dire need of a compost and fertilizer replenishment as well as straw and wood chips to line pathways and in-between rows.  Additionally we bought some new tools for the garden and plant material for their fall planting. 

One of Mitchell’s top achievements in 2014 was planting, harvesting and sharing 168 pounds of sweet potatoes with the entire cafeteria. Their 3rd graders planted sweet potato starts in the Spring and harvested them in the Fall as 4th graders. Cafeteria staff then prepared several different dishes with them for the students to try as a part of the lunch menu.  All students were able to taste and eat the sweet potatoes their fellow classmates had grown! 4th graders were so excited about their harvest, they composed a garden rap:

"Respect the earth,
Respect your health,
Respect your buddies,
Respect yourself"

The bounty of Mitchell’s school garden extends beyond the cafatria—kids make pickels and lettuce boxes in the classroom to share with their family members. As part of a 5th grade lesson on solutions and mixtures, students made pickles with some of the fresh harvests from the garden. The kids create their own brine "solution" and "mixture" of spices and seasonings to combine for a delicious recipe in pickling. As a part of a 6th grade lesson in math, students create lettuces boxes using 2x4s, screws and some metal screening.  They then calculate out all the material costs and successfully grows crops of lettuces - calculating out how many crops and how much time it would take to break even and make a profit.

Mitchell also got teachers involved through collaboration with their local Whole Foods Market. The school now hosts a Healthy Hearts cooking program that teaches students and their families how to cook healthy foods and shop economically while utilizing some fresh ingredients from the garden. The Healthy Hearts Program also offers an after-school program to students and families each semester.