Green Corps on Urban Gardening and Food Justice

Danny Stock

In early April, 5th graders wrapped up their year-long community engagement and experiential learning (CEEL) program proudly called the Green Corps. All year, 5th grade students have studied urban gardening and food justice. Students connected with experts, took on service projects, explored unfamiliar neighborhoods, grew food, and shared their learning with the GDS community. They grew lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and more in hydroponic gardens in the GDS Middle School science labs after attending a presentation about sustainable food production and then connected with kindergarten buddies to teach them about seed planting. Later, they enjoyed salads made from their harvest.

During the culminating field trip, students visited Martha’s Table at the Commons in Southeast to deliver sandwiches and no-nut trail mix they’d prepared back on campus for donation. (Many caught a glimpse of the large mural by GDS alumnus Jay Coleman ’90)! Students spoke with Martha’s Table staff members Briana Cleveland and Uneka King while delivering the fresh food donations and learned more about the organization’s work to combat food insecurity and promote child and family wellness in the DC area.

Then students ventured back outdoors to visit the Anacostia Community Museum’s Food for the People: Eating and Activism in Greater Washington exhibit. There, students continued learning about food justice; the outdoor interactive exhibit helped to highlight the important work of local food producers and food activists. The 5th graders participated in several hands-on learning activities, including the Tomato Race—“Try your hand at making a living wage working on a large conventional tomato farm”—and voted on the notion of food access as a human right. They learned more about current policies that respond to the idea that it is indeed a human right. 

We are proud of all that the 5th graders have learned as part of Green Corps this year and look forward to supporting them as they expand their knowledge—and the scope of their explorations—in 6th grade Exploration Corps!

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  • Community Engagement
  • Learn Actively
  • Middle School