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SW - Lantrip Elementary

Houston, TX

Kids at Lantrip develope a taste for fresh veggies and an interest in sustainable living.

Lantrip Elementary changes lifestyles in a population where diets usually consists of processed food, not veggies fresh from the garden. The garden program is introducing elementary school children, known as Lantrip Blooms, to the fundamentals of healthy eating and engaging them in the process of growing vegetables, composting waste, and collecting rainwater.

Many of Lantrip Blooms’ members began life at the school 3 years ago. Prior to receieinvg a Whole Kids Foundaiton grant, Lantrip had an existing greenhouse and 7 raised garden beds (4-feet by 8-feet, made from a border of small, 6-inch cinder bock). But the garden and greenhouse were significantly under utilized, and the beds were unplanted for the majority of the year.

With Whole Kids Foundation’s grant funding, Lantrip’s school garden finally reached its full potential in the summer of 2012.  The school installed a drip irrigation system to help their garden survive the unforgiving Texas climate—each raised bed has its own valve, and each sprinkler within each bed can be shut off individually. Funding also went toward starter plants and seeds, folding, durable “Texas” tomato cages, trellises, compost, fertilizer, and soil, educational materials,  large pots to create container gardens for several teachers.

Lantrip now houses a flourishing, year-round garden that exposes children, and the community as a whole—many of whome had never seen a sprouting tomato, tomatillo plant, or ready-to-pick cucumber—to the simplicity of gardening. Saturday garden days encorporate students, staff, and parents, giving all an opportunity to plant, maintain, and harvest organic produce. Additionally, tomatoes and other plants are visible from the school perimeter, which is used by neighborhood walkers.

Partnerships within the community also blossomed on the grounds of Lantrip. New school partnerships with the US Forestry Service’s Project Learning Tree GreenSchools secured a metric-based grant for up to $10,000 that included an on-site workshop for making rain barrels and compost bins. Having these ecological tools at school gets kids exposed to the gardening and sustainable lifestyle like never before. Lantrip has also begun preliminary composting and hopes to expand composting in years to come.

These schoolyard experiences are even influencing students’ eating habits and career goals. Since Lantrip’s school gardens have flourished, kids have started talking of becoming chefs when they grow up and even ask for fruits and vegetables in lunches! Kids are sharing their love of garden veggies and herbs with their families too, as they often bring baggies of cilantro, tomaotes, or whatever else is ready to eat from the garden home. Adventerous, clean eating is becoming a reality for old and young generations who get a taste of Lantrip’s school garden.