We all know that digging in the dirt is great for kids. Time spent outside connects them to nature and means less time indoors or in front of screens. It’s even better when they are also simultaneously learning how to grow food. That’s just what students at Ira Harbison Elementary School in National City will do, thanks to the construction of a new school vegetable garden.
A Garden for Good, A Garden for All
In partnership with Healthy Day Partners, about 30 employees, their friends and family from SDG&E and our parent company, Sempra Energy, spent yesterday building a gardening space to support a certified organic Farm-to-School program in the National School District. This effort goes hand in hand with National Farm to School Month in October, an initiative that brings local produce into schools to teach students about nutrition through experiential learning.
The garden features seven raised beds with a dedicated irrigation system in an area that was previously left unused. Every grade level has its own raised bed to plant seasonal fruits and vegetables.
National City Councilmember Ron Morrison joined us for the project, so did Mayor Alejandra Sotelo Solis and National School District Superintendent Leighangela Brady and School Board Member Brian Clapper.
“The goal is to create and elevate school farm and garden programs where students have an opportunity to grow organic fruits and vegetables and connect general education directly to the school lunch program, to student health and the health of the planet,” said CEO/President of Healthy Day Partners Mim Michelove.
So far, the Farm-to-School program has supported the construction of ten gardens in the National School District, with Ira Harbison’s being the last one completed. Over the years, the district has prioritized the gardens as a resource on every school campus, and it will undoubtedly benefit the students.
Fresh Food for Thought
Growing fresh local food and pairing it with impactful education lessons will make a difference for almost 6,000 underserved students in the district, where obesity rates are among the highest in the county. These efforts will contribute to healthy eating habits in a community that struggles with obesity and diabetes, due in part to lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Students will have an opportunity to grow and taste organic fruits and vegetables and, in many cases, for the first time.
SDG&E employees are passionate about protecting the environment and giving back to their community. Through the Environmental All-Stars program, SDG&E employees regularly volunteer their time for a variety of projects in the community, ranging from building school gardens and installing solar panels for low-income residents to restoring habitats for endangered species.