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Students learn to garden in the classroom

By Shannon Ballard 6:08 AM April 18, 2014

Everything from science and math to culture and geography can be taught in a garden.

“It’s so cool because you can actually feel the texture on your tongue and taste it,” said Leanne Davis, a fourth-grader at Alaska Native Cultural Charter School.

ANCCS’s garden is part of a new after-school program.

“It’s very hands-on,” said Kelly Ingram with The Alaska Botanical Garden. ”Every lesson that we do we’re smelling them, feeling them and tasting them.”

The Anchorage School District and the Alaska Botanical Garden teamed up this year to bring growing inside the classroom during the winter.

All year, students at four different schools have been planting and watering.

“When you grow stuff it actually looks really beautiful,” Leanne said.

Now, the time has come to harvest their crops. It’s the final lesson in an effort teach the power of local food.

“Local food is a complex issue, but it’s a way that kids can really feel more connected to their community and feel empowered to take a step to make a difference in their community,” Ingram said.

The gardening program allows Alaskan kids to become advocates for Alaska food.

“It’s actually fresh. We can actually eat it and there are no chemicals,” fourth-grader Talia Alaivanu said.

The partnership hopes kids will feel empowered to try new food, grow their own and share it.

“The actions that they take even when they’re young can impact the big picture of our food system in Alaska,” Ingram said.

The partnership is only possible because of grants given to the 21st Century Community Learning Center.

It hopes to double this program by next year, which could impact more than 600 students.

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