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Growing organic!

School gardens and organic food

Giuditta Vittadini, DiProVe – Faculty of Agriculture – University of Milan

The didactic and pedagogic mean of a school garden
• One of the main challenge today is to build and to feed sustainable communities: social, cultural and physical environments in which we can satisfy our needs and our aspirations without reducing the prospects of future generations • In organic farming every action is considered for its effect on the totality cycles of the plants and of soil local territory and traditional farming • A school garden is the ideal place for teaching the merit of organic farming to our children: teaches these foundamental facts of life an ecosystem doesn’t generate waste matter cycles continually diversity assures resilience the sun’s energy drives the ecological cycle life take over the planet by cooperation, partnership, networking

Teachers and children are taken over an educational experience rich of goals: • Ecological and environmental education relationship between natural elements the ecological concept of food cycle (sense of place) periodicity of agriculture production knowledge of some indigenous plants the practical experience infuses into children respect for earth • Food education to eat seasonal vegetables and fruits the involvement of families • The pedagogic aspects of gardening are also very important children experience growth on a daily basis integration of every school’ s activity with gardening parallelism between the natural community and the human’s one

School gardens and their contribute to Food Security
• • The didactic role of school gardens is also important for FAO The major aims of FAO’ s School Garden Programme are: Educational: relevance and quality of education for rural and urban children; production and consumption of micronutrient-rich fruits and green leafy vegetables; active learning by linking gardens with other subjects; environmental issues and practical nutrition education. Economic/Food security: sustainable production of food is important for household food security; income-generation opportunities; food availability and diversity.

Slow Food and its school garden’s projects
Slow Food is a no-profit organization that supports local food production, territorial origin and high rate quality food. In 2001 Slow Food USA led the first national project promoting School Garden: The Edible Schoolyard In 2006, at the Slow Food Italy National Congress in Sanremo, it was resolved to create 100 gardens in Italy. Today in Italy over 125 school gardens are part of the national program “Orto in Condotta” School gardens follow the three principles of Good, Clean and Fair

Partner of the project are student, teachers, grandparents, parents, local services, Slow Food and local producer. All togheter are able to establish a “learning community”

The italian national program is called “Orto in Condotta” and includes a three-year curriculum and its characteristics are: First year is focused on vegetable garden and sensory training; second year is based on alimentary and environmental training; third year on the food culture and the regional know. Children must use organic production methods and choose local product; OGM are forbidden; Food production with didactic value is preferred.

The example of the school garden in San Mauro Torinese
• The municipality of San Mauro Torinese was one of the first Italian towns that began the project “Orto in Condotta”. After four years the results are seven school gardens allocated in four primary school and one nursery school The children with teachers and grandparents realized the “Campo dei Semplici” where cultivate officinal herbs and aromatic plants and another vegetables garden called “Campo Coccinelle” where are cultivated marrows, tomatoes, aubergines, peas and strawberries (the typical fruit of San Mauro Torinese)

The educational point of wiew

• Creation of sense of responsibility • Cooperation with other children and with grandfather • Children are happier and less aggressive • Creation of a net with territory: educational school trip and breeders’ workshop • Children of San Mauro Torinese cultivated little gardens in pots with old and disabled person

The didactic point of wiew Children recognize different plants: next every plant is put a tag with its name and information about cultivation Knowledge of the soil and of the basis of organic horticulture is developed: intercropping, mulching, composting Meaning of recycling and of separate refuse collection is explained Children learn to eat seasonal vegetables and fruits

• Children invented the play to recognize plant by smelling

• The school send to the fair village the products of the school garden

The project “Orto in Condotta” at the primary school A. Scarpa of Milan

• On February 2009 the project will start in the primary school A. Scarpa of Milan • There will be two important goals in the first year: The school garden has to be projected with children The importance of composting

Planning with children • The explanation of the meaning of natural community and the relationships between natural elements: “nature journal” simple experimental activities:
• investigation of the soil; • understanding intercropping; • learning what elements plants need to grow

the school garden planning

The importance of composting • Explaining to the children the technique to produce compost • It will be better to begin with activities that explain to children the decomposition’s process: creation of a “decomposition corner” carrying out experiment with compost to understand how organic matter changes

• School gardens can contribute to increasing the relevance and quality of education. • Gardens can be used for practical work related to biology, environmental studies, mathematics as well as reading, writing and arts. • School garden activities can include nutrition education, food preservation techniques, sustainable natural resource management, recycling and composting. • The project “Orto in Condotta” strength the didactic syllabus by providing alimentary education as well as environmental education. • Children will acquire basic organic farming knowledge and a comprehensive regional knowledge.

Thanks for your attention!!