Introducing Dig It STL

soldan build infrasructure


School’s out for the summer! What do school garden educators do over the summer, you ask? Well, this year we’re happy to report we’ll be running our pilot youth employment program, Dig It STL! 12 amazing young people, 2 crew leaders, and the education staff will all be working our tails off for 8 weeks, STARTING NEXT WEEK!, for the benefit of our community’s food projects. Dig It youth will be working with school gardens, senior gardens, City Seeds, and Bell Community Garden. They’ll be learning leadership skills, cooking, teaching kids, pulling weeds, getting a crash course in agriculture, and going on field trips, all while earning money (for a lot of them, it’s their first job!). It’s going to be sweaty, dirty, and inspiring. We just can’t wait to get started.

Wanna check it out? Dig It youth will be working at Bell Garden during normal volunteer hours from 9-12 every Saturday for the next 8 weeks. Come on down and get to know the newest additions to the Gateway Greening family.


It’s the end of the school year! How is your garden program doing? Is it living up to the expectations of both the students and the teachers in your program? Are you teaching everything you set out to teach? One way to find out is to allow teachers and students to self-evaluate their time in the garden. To help you out, we’ve put up an example of our Teacher End of the Year Evaluation and our Student Pre and Post Test that we use with 2nd and 3rd graders. We encourage you to use them as springboards to make your own tools.sharpe daisies

If you are looking for a less writing-based evaluation tool, you can always take video of students answering your evaluation questions verbally. It’s also possible to use an outside evaluator to observe your program and rate it using any number of different tools. This tool can help you understand more about evaluation for environmental programs, and walks you through the process of creating a plan for your own program.

Kids Put Their Chefs Hats On!

sharpe making a salad2When the lettuce is starting to form heads, and the chive flowers are purple and poofy, we know it’s time to enjoy the fruits of our hard work! Here’s how we make salad with PK-2nd grade at Clay.


  • tub or bucket for washing dishes
  • tub or bucket for rinsing lettuce
  • sponge(s)
  • dish soap (biodegradable)
  • clean, potable water (not from your rain barrels)
  • low table for washing station
  • low table for tearing-up and dressing-making stations
  • reusable bowls or plates and forks for all students
  • olive oil
  • lemons, sliced in half (enough for every student to have half)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • several large bowls and colanders
  • non-latex gloves
  • hand sanitizer


1. Set up wash station, ‘processing’ station, and eating stations ahead of time.
 fenton washing dishes
2. Give every student a squirt of hand sanitizer and tell them it’s time to make a salad!  Have them follow you to the bed of lettuce. They will want to grab the outside of the leaf and rip pieces off– show them how to follow the leaf all the way to the stem and pull off whole leaves. Instruct everyone to pick a certain number of leaves (for PK and K we do 3, and 1 and 2 we do 5, because they tend to eat more). They will be grossed out by the bugs crawling on the leaves.sharpe making a salad
3. Once a few kids have the full amount of leaves, have them follow you to the wash station and show them how to rinse off their leaves in water. Then show them where the processing station is.

4. At the processing station, show them how to rip up the pieces of lettuce into bite sizes in the colanders. When colanders get full, give them one more rinse, and dump them into regular bowls. When kids finish tearing up lettuce, give them half a lemon to squeeze into an empty bowl. Tell them not to lick the lemon before they squeeze it (it will happen).sharpe making a salad3
5. Send kids who are finished back to the garden to pick various edible flowers– we always have chive flowers and a few brassica flowers this time of year, and if we’re in short supply, i have the kids pick dandelions to put in. You can also have kids pick anything else that might be ready– radishes, baby turnips, beet greens, peas, herbs– to throw into the salad as well.

6. You or another adult can mix olive oil, salt, and pepper into the lemon juice, and pour it over the salad that now has various accoutrements thrown in. Mix well. Then, have students all sit down. Have one student hand out forks and another hand out plates or bowls. One student can hold the salad bowl, and another can put on gloves and hand out just a little bit of salad to each student, to try. Enjoy!
I only give students seconds if they have completely finished their plates. As  you eat, you can talk about the different things students did to take care of the lettuce and other salad ingredients.sharpe lemon face
7. If you are using reusable dishes, have students toss their leftovers into the compost pile, and go back to the wash station with a tub of soapy water to wash their dishes. (you will want to re-wash them after they have gone back inside, but it is good practice for them).
sharpe eating salad