Source: Explore Ecology
The Johnson Ohana Foundation has awarded Santa Barbara nonprofit Explore Ecology a $10,000 donation for general support of their School Gardens Program.
Lindsay Johnson, Explore Ecology Executive Director says, “We are beyond thrilled to receive this generous donation from the Johnson Ohana Foundation. Their support of Explore Ecology programs over the past ten years helps us continue our important work of educating Santa Barbara County youth about food literacy, organic gardening, composting, and healthy food. We thank Johnson Ohana on behalf of Explore Ecology and all of the students and families whose lives are positively impacted by school gardens.”
The Johnson Ohana Foundation was founded by Kim and Jack Johnson to support environmental, art, and music education. Over the last decade, the Johnson Ohana Foundation has directed over $135,000 in grants to support Explore Ecology’s school garden and watershed education programs. Thanks to their ongoing generosity, the Explore Ecology School Gardens Program will continue to grow.
Explore Ecology’s School Gardens Program is thriving and producing abundant food even in the midst of COVID. Explore Ecology Garden Educators have been hard at work bringing the school garden experience to homebound students though virtual lessons and garden tours, DIY projects for children and families to do at home, and Pop Up Harvest Day Markets.
Explore Ecology staff has created online content for teachers and students on topics ranging from red wiggler worms to how to go on a plant walk. They’ve created projects like Grab and Go Garden Kits with accompanying video instructions on how to start seeds. They are also maintaining gardens and harvesting a lot of fresh produce. Garden Educators have made some of that produce available to families for free by holding Pop Up Markets at several Santa Barbara County schools. A table at Monroe Elementary was set up at 11:00 am filled with fresh, beautiful organic produce including Kale, Chard, Cabbage, Fennel, Fava Beans, Mint, and other culinary herbs. By 11:45 am, the table was bare! Families practicing safe physical distancing picked up the veggies and took them home to enjoy. Explore Ecology is inspiring children to stay connected to their school gardens, eat their vegetables, and spend time in nature.
Explore Ecology Garden Educators teach children how to grow food in elementary schools throughout Santa Barbara County. Using the garden as an outdoor classroom, students learn about planting, cultivating, harvesting, composting, and nutrition. Students in the School Gardens Program grow organic vegetables, healthy bodies, and lasting friendships.
Research shows that children who grow their own food tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, have a greater understanding of ecology, and receive higher test scores in science. For over 25 years, Explore Ecology has been a vital force for garden education, providing schools and youth groups with on-site gardening and composting lessons, teacher trainings, garden consultations, and Garden Curriculum.