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Teachers learn about planting school gardens

(WHSV)
Published: Jul. 20, 2016 at 6:13 PM EDT
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Around 40 teachers from across the state took part in a two-day workshop in Staunton to learn about a more hands-on approach to education.

The Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI) hosted the training session at their three-acre Urban Farm, located on the campus of the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind.

The first day focused on connecting school gardens to school cafeterias, according to Trevor Piersol with AMI. On Wednesday, the teachers learned how to start and maintain a garden.

"It's a great way to get kids a hands-on experience, teach them more about where their food comes from [and] help them develop healthy eating habits," said Piersol. "Just enrich their educational experience and make it more meaningful to them."

This year, AMI partnered with Mary Baldwin College (MBC) for the workshop.

Shay Carter, a Charlottesville teacher and graduate student at MBC, said she had seen a positive impact from her school's garden on students.

"We see so many things that we didn't expect," said Carter. "We saw engagement levels increase dramatically and, consequently, a lot of the behavioral issues started to decrease."

Carter also said the garden helped her become a better educator.

"I'm so much more happy teaching [and] being able to take my students into the garden and make these real-life connections," said Carter.

In addition to school gardens, AMI focuses on developing healthy and sustainable food systems in the community. They host an 18-month fellowship program in Highland County to encourages youth to become leaders in local food movements.