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Monday, October 03, 2011

Santa Fe's Salazar Elementary to Host Harvest Celebration at Salazar Green, A Sustainable Food Project Supported by Earth Care

On Thursday, October 13th, from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, Salazar Elementary in Santa Fe will celebrate the bounty from their school garden by hosting a dinner from the garden for families and friends. The evening of community and simple pleasures will include live music, fresh bread from the horno, student tours of the garden and a gallery of garden art.

The garden is part of the school's Salazar Green landscape project, which opened in May of 2010, and includes a track + field and community + garden. The project's main focus was to design a space that could help to reverse the rising rates of childhood diabetes and obesity by encouraging positive habits of physical health and nutrition.

"At Salazar, we’re making a special effort to give children and their families opportunities to work and play in our excellent outdoor space, and to take care of living things," said Mollie S. Toll, Science Literacy Coach at the school.

The school garden program is supported by local non-profit Earth Care, which was recently awarded a renewal grant from AmeriCorps via the Corporation for National and Community Service to continue its Food Cadre program for a second year. The grant provides 14 full-time positions for AmeriCorps volunteers to work with schools, nonprofits and local government to strengthen the local food system in Santa Fe County.

The mission of the Food Cadre program is to build a sustainable and just local food system that addresses the needs of the environment and of the community’s most vulnerable populations. The goals of the program are to build a local sustainable food system, involving youth throughout the process; to bring the food system back into balance with the ecological system that supports it; and to increase access to healthy food, sustainability resources and nutrition education for underserved communities.

According to Bianca Sopoci-Belknap, Associate Director of Earth Care, "New Mexico ranks 46th in the nation for children living in poverty. The natural innovation and problem solving skills of young people are needed to improve this situation. Our approach with this program is to support the positive development of young people in a way that also benefits their nutrition, environment, local economy, and community."

The Food Cadre is hosted by Earth Care in partnership with the City of Santa Fe, Santa Fe County, Santa Fe Public Schools, Cooking with Kids, the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market Institute, and the Santa Fe Alliance.

Santa Fe Public School Gardens
Earth Care’s AmeriCorps members have been working with students, parents and teachers at seven school sites, including Salazar Elemenary, to implement school gardens. A story on Earth Care's website explains that Salazar Green’s garden is the first garden officially installed by the Santa Fe Public School District and hopes to be exemplary for future school gardens and those with already existing programs. The garden supplies food to students through a variety of ways including Cooking with Kids, lunch programs, and in-garden tasting and to the surrounding community through the annual fall Harvest Fest.

The Garden and its facilities act as a classroom for all students at Salazar. At present, all K-6 classes spend an hour a week with the Sustainability and Garden Coordinator delving into the world of food and sustainability practices in an experiential and fun manner. The objective of these endeavors is to promote a local, just and sustainable food system and human system for all in the region.

You can keep up with garden activities at Salazar Elementary at the Salazar Verde Garden Blog. For further information, contact Science Literacy Coach Mollie Toll (670-8658), or principal Margo Shirley (467-3902).

Earth Care needs the help of the Santa Fe community to meet the matching funds requirement of $70,000 for its grant from AmeriCorps. Each dollar invested in this program leverages double the funds coming in to our community from the state and federal government. Donations can be made at www.earthcare.org or by calling 505.983.6896.

October 3, 2011 at 11:03 AM in Agriculture, Education, Food and Drink, Santa Fe, Youth | Permalink