Thanksgiving at Clay Elementary

warren feast
We celebrated Thanksgiving a little early at Clay with a meal we grew in our garden– kale chips and roasted sweet potatoes!

wilson kale harvest2


Cooking at school can be a challenge. Last year, we brought a portable fire pit to the school and roasted potatoes and onions in a real fire outside by the garden. This was incredibly fun, and allowed for student participation. However, the limited space in the fire pit and the length of time it took to heat up meant that our potatoes took hours to cook. There’s an oven in the teacher’s lounge that is available for use, but when we tried to make sweet potato fries a few weeks ago, the smoking oven set off the fire alarm. Nothing like the entire student body sniffing the smoky air and yelling, “Is this FOR REAL?” as they evacuate the building to discourage you from cooking!


wilson sweet potatoes1


Fortunately, a teacher from our preschool class recognized the problem and took some time out of her day to clean the oven the next week. At last, our students got to eat the fruits (or rather, veggies) of their labor. 4th grade chopped sweet potatoes, and helped Pre-K harvest the kale. Our wonderful volunteer Miss Kay managed the cooking process. We went from classroom to classroom with bowls of sweet potatoes and kale chips. When we had some left over at the end of the day, we stationed ourselves in the stairwell and kids grabbed sweet potatoes out of the bowls as they filed downstairs for dismissal.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends! We are thankful for you, the people who value and support the experiences our students have in the garden each and every week.

-Carolyn Cosgrove Payne, Youth Educator

Crown Center for Senior Living Visits Mallinckrodt Youth Garden

DSCN2161This year, I’ve visited the community garden at Crown Center for Senior Living and worked with the Happy Planters, the garden club there. One of the projects we undertook was using the greenhouse they have there to grow sweet potato slips not only for their garden but for the Youth Garden Sweet Potato Challenge. The seniors then visited the Mallinckrodt school garden in May to help with planting the sweet potato slips and again in October to help with harvesting the sweet potatoes.

The following is a post written by one of the Happy Planters after our October visit.

-Kathleen Carson, Community Educator

“On Wednesday, October 7, Kathleen Carson Community Educator, Gateway Greening greeted a white van as it pulled up to the Mallinckrodt School in South City, St. Louis, Missouri. Behind her were 40 excited fourth grade students and their teachers.

Ten older people, from the Happy Planters Program at the Gladys & Henry Crown Center for Senior Living, got off the van, some using a cane others using walkers and most wearing straw hats. They were at the school to see the herb and communal gardens grown by the students with the help of their teachers. The students were girls and boys, of different colors, educational and economic backgrounds and different religious beliefs.DSCN2162

The students seemed to work well together and listened attentively as each one presented a paper on the particular herb and vegetable they were growing. They were eager to answer questions from their visitors, and were knowledgeable and seemed at ease to show the sketches they made to go with their talk.

The herbs the students grew included parsley, basil, stevia, oregano, and mint. The herb and vegetables are grown in small boxed areas on the school’s front lawn.


The program at the Mallinckrodt School was begun in 2011 with support from Gateway Greening and Aetna.  Gateway Greening works with students and teachers in the garden along with many Gateway Greening and Fontbonne University interns in developing programming throughout the year. The Mallinckrodt Garden is supported by many Gateway Greening volunteers and Mallinckrodt parents.


After the visitors visited the individual boxes some of the students shared some of their harvest with their visitors.
The next stop on the trip was at the Gateway Greening Gardens on two-and-a-half acres of inner city land tended by volunteers from local universities and  by as community members along with professionally trained educators.  DSCN2166

The Garden grows everything from asparagus to zucchini. Here too, the harvest is shared with the community through Food Outreach, food pantries, and City Greens Market.  Affiliated also is a therapeutic horticulture program and job training program.”


Shown above are some of the Happy Planters from the Crown Center for Senior Living. Pictured in the center is Esme Gooding.




-Beverly D. Rehfeld, Happy Planter and Resident at Crown Center for Senior Living

Enter Your Garden in the Farm to School Census!


DSC_0011Did you know that school gardens are a huge part of the Farm to School movement? We didn’t realize just how huge until we attended this month’s Farm to School Conference in Columbia (which featured one of Gateway Greening’s member gardens, the Falcon Garden at Halls Ferry Elementary! Go Falcons!). Over and over again, presenters brought up examples of how school gardens factored into their school’s curriculum and cafeteria.


The USDA is accepting submissions for the second-ever Farm to School Census until 11/20/15. The purpose of this census is to determine what percentage of schools in the country participate in Farm to School activities. This includes– you guessed it– school gardening! If you click on the link above, you can search for your school district. If no results come up, that means your district has not yet sent their information to the USDA. Talk to your building’s principal or your district’s food service director about filling out the survey! Your school garden is playing a critical role in your students’ health and well-being, and we want the whole world to know about it.


In addition to the census, the USDA offers Farm to School grants.  Getting your district involved in the census now could give you the opportunity to kick your garden or cafeteria up notch in the future with these grant opportunities.