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John Story Jenks Elementary School
J.S. Jenks is a Philadelphia School District K-8 neighborhood public school. It houses a diverse, urban population of approximately 500 students, mostly from the northwest Philadelphia area. The school’s surrounding community of Chestnut Hill has a strong environmental connection with neighboring Fairmount Park and the Wissahickon Creek. Chestnut Hill participated in the Recyclebank pilot program and continues to have high participation in the city-wide Recyclebank program. Northwest Philadelphia’s environmental awareness and sustainability is further evidenced by the success of Weavers Way, a local co-operative market focused on the procurement and sale of local, sustainable, organic produce and groceries. Although J.S. Jenks is part of this community, it is difficult for students to make connections with their outdoor environment and it is a struggle to encourage healthy outdoor activities and lifestyle choices.
We are proposing a healthy food program that will involve the education of J.S. Jenks students and the creation of a student-operated vegetable garden that will complement an ongoing green curriculum led by grades 3-5 to benefit the entire school. The education program will enable J.S. Jenks students to learn about the benefits of healthy eating from a group of students made up of all grades. This group will go around to the classes to show everyone healthy foods that are available locally and how good they taste. Samples of food, both commonly available and some less-available (such as pomegranate), will be shared with students; students will also be invited to observe the progress in the garden. Students will also learn about comparing foods in terms of their content of healthy and less-healthy nutrients. Students will be encouraged to volunteer in a program where they introduce more healthy foods in their diet, even if it's just an extra banana a week. With the school garden a part of the science curriculum and the healthy eating program, students will be able to raise vegetables over three seasons with different crops in each season. Mr. Fitzsimmons' science class and a group of student volunteers will convert the grassy area to a vegetable garden by turning over the dirt, constructing four raised beds, and amending the soil with compost. Good-quality organic seeds from local dealers will be purchased. The science class will document plant growth and yield, while educating students on the importance of sustainable agriculture. By the end of Spring 2013, we expect early crops of carrots, peas, and lettuce. The summer period will involve management by a skeleton group of students to keep weeds in check and the plants watered. Summer crops will include tomatoes, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers. The fall crops will include lettuce, carrots, and remains from the summer. A rain barrel purchased with the grant will give us a convenient source of water. The bounty will be shared with students and their families, and organizations that serve low-income populations.