By Jaynie Loeb
This fall, Slow Food Orange County partnered with local elementary school Tustin Memorial Academy (TMA) to support a new development in their garden-based curriculum. The Green Bucks Program allows students who are learning in the outdoor garden classroom to earn rewards for exhibiting “Three E” behaviors—engagement, enthusiasm, and extra hard work. From eagerly raising a hand to record the temperature inside a Worm Compost Bin, to taking on a challenging clean-up task, there are many opportunities for Garden Masters to distribute Green Bucks to the bright and helpful TMA youth in recognition of their positive contributions.
What exactly can you do with a Green Buck, you may ask?
Every Tuesday, parent volunteers incorporate organic produce from the garden into an after-school market to provide healthy snacks for the campus community. Each Green Buck is worth $0.50 and can be exchanged here at the stand, where edible goodies such as frozen lemon pops, herb bundles, and pumpkin bread range from about $0.25 to $5.
Marci Weinberg, garden co-chair and mother of a TMA student, hopes that the Green Bucks incentive will push more kids to eat the very crops they are growing with their own hands. The goal in mind is to close the loop, bringing to life the important nutritional and environmental benefits of consuming fresh food that comes from a local source. “We received over 41 Green Bucks at last week’s stand!” Weinberg cheerfully explained to me with great pride. During her garden lessons, she now hears comments like, “I’m going to collect all of those leaves so I can get a Green Buck!,” and it becomes clear that this program is already a huge success.
Weinberg and the rest of the garden team would like to express their sincerest gratitude for Slow Food’s generous investment in the health and wellbeing of our future generations.
The TMA Garden is the first recipient of a Slow Food Orange County Microgrant.