MILWAUKEE, WI – St. Joseph Academy (SJA) is about to get a whole lot greener!
Action for Healthy Kids is a national nonprofit that mobilizes communities to take actions that lead to creating healthier schools and homes where kids thrive. The organization is supporting SJA with a grant for physical fitness and nutrition programming, which includes the installation of garden beds on the north end playground on 17th Street.
SJA has purchased 10 – 4 x 8 garden beds, one for each grade level (K4-8th). Classrooms will have the opportunity to participate in designing, planting and caring for their own garden. The goal is to create a gardening program for all students at the Academy. The early childhood education children will be added to the larger gardening effort through a mentoring program at a later date, when it is safe again to do so. In the meantime, SJA’s early childhood education students (6 weeks-3 years) will be involved in a smaller scale growing program. Small cedar planter boxes will be available to each of the 10 classrooms. Classrooms can choose to paint and decorate their boxes before planting and will have the option of keeping them outside or in their classrooms.
SJA’s Green & Sustainable Team has been hard at work on efforts surrounding STEM classrooms, energy usage studies, water quality improvements, and garden initiatives. Kim Schubring, Resource Development Manager and Green & Sustainable Team member, said the Academy is excited to be moving forward in the goals towards developing a green and sustainable school.
“Our gardens are an important first step in creating outdoor classrooms where students will learn the health benefits of growing food from start to finish, sample fruits and veggies they’ve grown and share the harvest with others,” she said. “The benefits of the garden will not only benefit our students but will also support local pollinator efforts and build engagement opportunities with our neighbors and broader community.”
SJA has partnered with Victory Garden Initiative for the installation of the beds. Volunteers were onsite on April 6 to deliver the soil and install the beds. Victory Garden also provided SJA with 50 seed packs to start the planting process. Victory Garden is a nonprofit organization that builds communities that grow their own food, to create a community-led, socially just, environmentally sustainable, nutritious food system for all.