We are the Southern Boone Learning Garden, an independent non-profit that works in partnership with the Southern Boone County R-1 school district in Ashland, Missouri, to provide outdoor, garden-based education to its students.
Located in central Missouri just a few miles from the Missouri River, we are lucky to be surrounded by some of the most productive farmland in the country. Despite the rural location and agricultural roots of our community, there is a great disconnect between many residents and their food. Upset by both this disconnect and the rising rates of childhood obesity in our country, two Southern Boone moms, Jenny Grabner and Lesli Moylan, resolved to make a difference, and founded the Learning Garden in 2007. The first program was a small after school club that served 13 elementary students.
The programming and scope of the organization have grown exponentially since those early days. Garden club still remains, and now reaches 30 children in both the fall and the spring. Additionally, the Learning Garden has been integrated into the school-day schedule, and each kindergarten through fifth grade class currently visits the garden six times during the school year for a lesson. Our focus remains garden-based and environmental education, but through collaboration with classroom teachers, we are able to constantly link our work to educational standards and curriculum. All of our lesson plans are available to the public HERE.
When it comes to vegetables, we’ve found that if a child grows it, they’ll eat it. Then, they tell their parents, and the positive chain reaction is set in motion! It’s exciting to witness these changes within our community, and we feel so lucky to play a small part in implementing them. The future looks bright for the kiddos of Southern Boone, and full of salad, too.