By D’Ann Dreiling
Photos courtesy KC Community Gardens
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” Audrey Hepburn
Kansas City Community Gardens has been planting seeds for nutrition and hope since 1979.
This nonprofit organization has provided fresh food to more than 37,000 households in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Their mission is to “empower and inspire low income households, community groups and schools to grow their own fruits and vegetables.” The KCCG currently supports 700,000 square feet of garden space in 259 locations.
Their annual plant sale is a great resource for any home garden. There are three membership levels (from $2 to $25 per year based on household income), and anyone can join. The benefits include free seeds, fertilizer, access to gardening equipment, advice and low-priced transplants. Three-packs of cool weather plants go on sale for all membership levels on March 26, followed by warm weather plants on April 30.
The Giving Grove organization partners with KCCG and has developed 202 orchards in the KC area on schoolyards, church land, community grounds and vacant lots. Eventually these small orchards will have the capacity to produce 2.2 million servings of fruit each year.
The Beanstalk Children’s Garden, located at KCCG headquarters, 6917 Kensington in Swope Park, offers kids a unique opportunity to see, smell, touch and taste growing plants so that they’re encouraged to make healthy food choices.
There are 220 schools now participating in the KCCG Schoolyard Gardens program. This includes Grandview High School. In 2012 the school started with one raised garden bed and gradually grew to eight raised beds. By 2019 the growing beds were deteriorating and needed replacement. Social studies teacher Pamela Burham along with health teacher Kyla Serrano applied for a Whole Kids Food Grant. Now, with the help and skill of KCCG’s Schoolyard Gardens staff, there are eight new garden beds with freshly filled soil ready to be planted by returning students. This month Angie Waterman, one of the organization’s pros, will meet with students and together they will plan and plant the garden with spring vegetables and herbs.
It’s a great real world experience, Serrano says. “Students have been able to see and experience what an impact gardens can have on a community.” She says such experiences lead students “not only to a hobby, but also a lifelong path to wellness and sustainable living.”
If you know of someone interested in starting a garden at your school, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you need help with your garden or would like to start a community garden, check out the KCCG Facebook page.
The Garden Club students at Grandview High School will be celebrating their spring harvest in May with this great big garden salad! If you’re getting your seedlings in the ground now, you can join the celebration with your own salad of early vegetables.
Here’s the dish…
The Schoolyard Gardens’ Kale Apple Salad
Serves 10-20 students
- 2 bunches kale, de-stemmed, cut or torn
- 2 apples, diced (can also use pears)
- ½ cup slivered almonds, pecans, cashews, or pistachios (unsalted)
- ½ cup shredded cheese (cheddar or parmesan)
For the dressing
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 T maple syrup
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 T Dijon mustard
- Salt to taste
- Massage cut kale for 1-2 minutes if desired
- Combine kale, apple, almonds, and cheese and set aside.
- Put all dressing ingredients into a blender and pulse 4-5 times OR put all dressing ingredients in a mason jar and shake until well combined.
- Drizzle dressing over kale mixture and toss to combine
- Serve and enjoy!