May 17, 2016
3rd Annual Green Our Planet School Garden Conference Held at Innevation
Hundreds of teachers, administrators, sponsors, chefs and speakers from nearly 80 different CCSD schools gathered at The Innevation Center on April 30th, 2016 for the 3rd Annual Green Our Planet School Garden Conference, in collaboration with the CCSD, the NV Department of Agriculture (NDA), and Innevation. 50 speakers made presentations along with panels on everything from chefs in schools to STEM curriculum instruction in gardens, hydroponics, composting, and fundraising. Keynote speakers John Fisher from LifeLab and Rick Sherman from Oregon Farm to School were flown in courtesy of the NDA. CCSD Chief of staff Rick Neal and School Board Trustee Kevin Child also spoke. Thank you to all of our sponsors who made the event possible and to The Innevation Center for hosting the event!  (Above: attendees in the main conference room listening to opening ceremonies.  Below Rick Sherman, Oregon Farm to School Program keynote speaker).
Earth Day Three Million Will Save the CCSD Three Million Gallons of Water a Year
Launched by Green Our Planet in February, 2016, in partnership with the CCSD, the nonprofit Los Vaqueros, and with the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the sponsorship of the Mentor's Foundation, Earth Day Three Million was designed to remove 63,000 square feet of water-intensive grass from 13 CCSD schools and replace it with less water-intensive raised bed vegetable gardens and trees. With Los Vaqueros removing the grass for free and the SNWA providing a rebate to schools for the grass, the project was completed by April 22nd, on Earth Day. Thank you also to our sponsors who funded some of the garden expansions. The following schools participated:  
Marion Earl Elementary School
Myrtle Tate Elementary School
Crestwood Elementary School
Owen Roundy Elementary School
Gilbert Elementary School
Robert E Lake Elementary School
Twin Lakes Elementary School
Ruby Thomas Elementary School
Parson Elementary School
Walter Long Elementary School
CH Decker Elementary School
Staton Elementary School
Jim Bridger Middle School

All together, the schools accomplished the following with this program:

- 63,000 square feet of grass removed
- 3.4 Million gallons of water saved per year = 87,000 baths
- over $100,000 in rebates provided by the SNWA to schools
- 850 volunteers built the new gardens, donating 600 hours of their time
- 4,000 students learned about water conservation at SNWA assemblies

(Below: Earth Day Three Million poster created by Green Our Planet Americorps Member, Diana Garcia)
A generous grant from the Mentor's Foundation made Earth Day 3Million possible.
Results of the School Garden Survey about the Impact of Gardens released by UNLV's Dr. Jennifer Pharr
Dr. Jennifer Pharr presenting the results of the UNLV-Green Our Planet-CCSD school garden survey at the school garden conference on April 30th, 2016
In late 2015 and early 2016, Green Our Planet collaborated with the UNLV School of Community Health Sciences and more than 60 schools in the CCSD that have gardens in order to carry out the first preliminary survey in So. Nevada on how school gardens are impacting teachers, students, and schools. The collaboration and impact study grew out of the thesis topic of Tomomi Murakami, a former graduate student at the UNLV School of Community Health Sciences, Master of Public Health program (Murakami, 2015) and was overseen by Dr. Jennifer Pharr.

The survey measured the impact school gardens are having on students, teachers and the community as well as the concerns, resources, benefits or barriers that educators identify regarding the utilization of gardens to teach their students. The analysis of the data showed that the gardens are currently having a strongly beneficial impact on the schools that have them. Green Our Planet is currently working with these same partners to begin a long-term impact study of the effects of gardens on student test scores, nutrition habits, and environmental awareness.

The following are some of the results:
Some of the results of the school garden survey
Green Our Planet, the KJS Family Foundation, and REC Collaborate on Three Garden STEM Teacher Training Workshops
Above: Participants in the first, all-day-Saturday teacher training workshop, held at Crestwood Elementary School on April 2 2016

Green Our Planet and the KJS Family Foundation funded the Regenerative Edge-ucation (REC) team to carry out three teacher training days at different elementary schools with gardens in Las Vegas during the month of April. 104 teachers participated in 8-hour workshops in order to learn how to successfully use the Pre-K through 5th grade Outdoor Garden Classroom Curriculum at their schools. Teachers then carried out a project in the garden at their schoosl in order to earn a PDE credit. On May 14, Green Our Planet partnered with the Desert Research Institute and Create a Change Now to train an additional 70 teachers in garden related topics. The training included a trip to a DRI soil sampling station in Boulder City, a scavenger hunt at the Tivoli farmers market, and lessons in the gardens at Springs Preserve.  The day ended with wonderful chef demonstrations for the teachers at Innevation. In all over 170 teachers received training in the workshops.
Whole Foods Markets and Green Our Planet Collaborate on 12 Student-Run Farmers' Markets During Single Day
Above: Students and teachers from Bracken Elementary selling their produce at Whole Foods Market, Tenaya, on May 6th, 2016. 11 other schools also participated.

This spring, Green Our Planet collaborated with Whole Foods Markets for the third year running so that 12 CCSD schools could sell their garden produce in front of all four Whole Foods Markets (Tenaya, Henderson, Fort Apache, and Town Square). Helen Marie Smith, Elaine Wynn, Owen Roundy, Parson, Walter Bracken, Jack Dailey, Robert E Lake, CT Sewell, and Walter Long Elementary Schools in addition to Valley and Coronado High Schools participated. Thus far, during the 2015-2016 school year, CCSD schools have held more than 125 farmers markets, helping generate funds for their garden programs and at the same time teaching students entrepreneurship.
15 CCSD Schools Expand Gardens into Outdoor Garden Classrooms
This year, 15  CCSD schools  expanded their gardens into Outdoor Garden Classrooms, complete with white boards, student seating, murals, and in some cases harvest tables around the garden beds. The additions make it easier for teachers to use the PreK-5 garden curriculum to teach STEM subjects outside, rather than in a traditional classroom. In all, some 23 CCSD schools have created Outdoor Garden Classrooms in their gardens in the last two years.

(Above: students, parents, teachers, and volunteers from Switch at Robert E Lake Elementary School during their garden expansion on Earth Day, April 22nd 2016. Switch sponsors their garden).
Garden Tip
The Fruits of Our Labor

By Tiffany Whisenant, General Manager of Garden Farms

I like to think of seasons in Las Vegas in terms of fruits, roots and shoots. Winter and spring produce a bounty of roots and shoots in the garden - leafy greens like spinach and kale, roots crops like carrots, beets, radishes and so on - while summer is all about the fruits. Strawberries are spilling out of the garden, plums are beginning to ripen, and squash will soon be in such abundance we'll have to beg the neighbors to take a few more loafs of zucchini bread. Even in the heat of July, you can't stop the eggplants and green beans. 

Keep that heat in mind this summer, and take measures to protect your crops and your soil. Remember that a little shade can go a long way! We farmers prefer using plants to shade our gardens, such as sunflowers, corn and okra. Vining plants like squash, watermelon and cucumber can do more than produce tasty fruit; they also shade the soil, lock in moisture, and improve your garden for the next season with a huge amount of organic material to be added to the compost pile after harvest.

Summer is for relaxing in the shade and admiring the lush garden while enjoying a peach from the tree you're sitting under. Taking steps now to set your garden up for summer success will guarantee you the time to enjoy the fruits of your labor from the hammock later.

Artist Randy Mendre (left) who has donated sculptures to various school gardens in the CCSD, with Fertitta Middle School teacher, Reggie Smith
An Interview With Teacher Reggie Smith, a Garden Team Leader at Fertitta Middle School

(Note: In previous years, teacher Reggie Smith taught 5th grade at John S Park Elementary School, whose garden program began three years ago. Reggie was on the garden team at John S Park and, when he transferred last summer to Fertitta Middle School, he was soon instrumental in helping to get a garden built there this spring, with the help of Green Our Planet and Garden Farms). 

What Grade/ subject do you teach? 6th grade

How long have you been teaching at Fertitta? This has been my first year

Why do you choose to teach science in the garden?  The garden offers a way of learning and topics that most students would never be introduced to if it wasn't offered here.  It's a powerful tool for connecting with those hard to reach students that are often not engaged in class.

What benefits do you see in teaching science in the garden?  Students love the garden. It's incredible how engaged and enthusiatic they become about the curriculum. I have heard from so many other teachers around campus how they have had students carry topics discussed in the garden class to choose for research topics in their science, social studies, and English classes.

What do you look forward to doing with the program next year?  We are excited to be offering the gardening elective as a 7th grade full year class in addition to the 6th grade semester long course that started this year.
Photos from the Third Annual Green Our Planet School Garden Conference
To see a Flickr album of conference photos, click below:
                                 Conference Photos
GoP Co-Founder, Ciara Byne, kicking the conference off.
Gold, Silver, and Bronze sponsors of the conference. Thank you!!
Keynote speaker John Fisher, of LifeLab, addressing the crowd.
Teachers from Helen Marie Smith Elementary School with Ken MacDonald (2nd from left) of Newfields Corp, an environmental consulting firm. MacDonald was one of the  gold sponsors of the conference and sponsor of the garden at Parson Elementary School.
A break out session on "How to Create a Successful Garden Team," led by Green Our Planet Senior Garden Coordinator, Bonnie Cooper. This was one of 24 panels and talks at the conference, with more than 50 speakers participating.
The Nevada Department of Agriculture team, a partner in the event and the force behind the Farm to School Movement in Nevada.
Gard Jameson, UNLV professor, philanthropist and a sponsor of the garden conference, introduced keynote speaker, John Fisher, of LifeLab.
Erik Truelson (left) of Green Our Planet and student volunteers from Veterans Tribute High School, handed out 100 milkweed plants to teachers in order to help restore Monarch Butterfly habitat at area schools, in partnership with the Fish & Wildlife Service.
Cheryl Wagner (left) from the CCSD Partnership Office and Ciara Byrne of Green Our Planet, taking a break between sessions. Cheryl recently spearheaded the creation of CCSD guidelines on the construction of school gardens, plus the creation of a map that shows all CCSD schools with gardens.
MaryBeth Horiai, who organized the conference and the Earth Day Three Million Program along with GoP's staff. MaryBeth's work at Green Our Planet was sponsored by the Mentors Foundation
Tiffany and Bryan Vellinga, owners of Garden Farms, the farming company and GoP partner that has built and maintains more than 100 school gardens in the CCSD.
Keynote speakers Rick Sherman (left), of the Oregon Farm to School Program, and Jeff Fisher, of Lifelab, based in California. Their visits were sponsored by the Nevada Department of Agriculture.
Diana Garcia, a garden coordinator at Green Our Planet, tending the bar during Happy Hour.
Networking during Happy Hour, at the conclusion of the all-day conference.
The Green Our Planet staff, joined by keynote speakers, the NV Dept of Agriculture, and friends.
Copyright © 2016 Green Our Planet, All rights reserved.

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