Harvest Fest kicks off year of agriculture at MinnehahaAgriculture is coming to Minnehaha classrooms this year thanks to a grant written by Leah Bott and awarded by the Minnesota Agricultural Leadership Council.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
Agriculture is coming to Minnehaha classrooms this year thanks to a grant written by Leah Bott and awarded by the Minnesota Agricultural Leadership Council.
It all started last Friday with Harvest Fest, the kick off to a year of conscious efforts to integrate agriculture into elementary curriculum. Harvest Fest gave students the chance to show off produce they grew over the summer—many with some help from their parents. The goods, including vegetables, fruits, flowers and canned goods, were displayed on a table in the hallway and then judged, county fair style, near the end of the school day.
“The kids are so proud,” Principal Pat Driscoll said.
One student from each category took first place—a basket of gourds for the vegetables, a watermelon from the fruit lot, a mixed bouquet from the flower spread and pickled beets from among the canned goods.
The grant also provided classrooms with seeds and planting benches featuring grow lights. The hope is that next year, the autumn Harvest Fest will feature plants the students started in their classrooms and nursed at home over the summer.
On Oct. 12, Sue Knott from the Minnesota Agriculture in the Classroom program will visit the Minnehaha to speak with teachers about making agriculture a bigger part of daily education.
MAITC is a program that’s existed for 27 years, making students more aware of the importance of agriculture in their state.
“It’s a big employer and big impact on our economy,” Knott said, “and we are all consumers.”
She said the program aims to empower kids to educate themselves about food choices available and why they should care about what they eat. She hopes students can gain the tools to decide what types of food are available and what’s best for them, as well as keep an eye on agricultural legislation, using their voices and votes to influence food politics.
She’ll show teachers ways to reach these goals with their students by talking about agriculture in the context of a bigger subject.
“With science, you want to understand the environmental needs of the plants,” she said, which can be uninteresting if taught from a textbook. If students get to experiment with plants in their classrooms, much like kids at the Minnehaha will this year, the lessons will stick and the students will learn about their food in the process. They will get to see exactly how producers and farmers use science to grow crops efficiently.
“We want students to know that agriculture is a big part of everyone’s survival…and to motivate them to be educated consumers about agricultural products,” Knott said.