August 09, 2013
|Students at ME Pearson Elementary School in Kansas City, Kan., work at their organic teaching garden|
A decade ago, Marcia Pomeroy, director of the K-12 Initiative in the University of Kansas School of Medicine's Office of Cultural Enhancement and Diversity, set out to establish organic teaching gardens for school children in Kansas City, Kan. Today, the gardening program includes 130 raised beds at three middle schools and four elementary schools; since 2002, more than 13,500 youths have participated.
A $50,000 grant to KU Endowment from the Unified Government - Hollywood Casino Grant Fund will provide crucial funding for the program, which relies on continued private support.
Pomeroy directs the K-12 Initiative, which includes the gardening program she helped establish. The program involves collaboration among the KU School of Medicine; the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools; neighborhood groups; and Mark Manning of KKFI Community Radio. Manning is the gardening coordinator and has been with the program since it began. He has developed 21 different workshops given 320 times per school year. He leads students and teachers in planting, maintaining and harvesting the gardens.
"The Organic Teaching Gardens provide an educational experience through science, math, reading and the arts," said Pomeroy. "Learning how to develop a garden of nutritious vegetables is many students' first experience in a living laboratory. The similarities in the lives of the children and young people we serve and our gardens are many. Our gardens have the potential to yield a harvest full of richness and beauty. So do the children and young people we serve."
Pomeroy said each year brings new challenges of funding, weather, land use, time and urgency. "Our students face vulnerabilities year to year that range from having enough food to eat, jobs for their parents, medical access and more," said Pomeroy. "As with the gardens, together we can support a bountiful harvest."
The Unified Government - Hollywood Casino Grant Fund supports the intention of Healthy Communities Wyandotte. The focus is to fund programs that increase knowledge and action toward long-term changes that enable Wyandotte County community members to eat healthy food and be physically active. Grant recipients demonstrate cultural relevance, address opportunities to increase knowledge and improve the food environment and/or support active living through utilization of Wyandotte County's environmental infrastructure.
The gift counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university's $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.
The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.