Fruits of their labor
What began with a Lyons Community Foundation Community Support Grant for “seed money” to fund a Garden Classroom Integration program last year, has blossomed into true garden to table program with the bounty going to support the LEAF/Food Pantry program that serves members of the Lyons Community that may not have enough to eat.
Kim and Andy Doering, on behalf of Lyons Elementary School (LES) were awarded a $1400 LCF grant last fall to buy some new growing lights and supplemental support for the existing garden beds and irrigation infrastructure. The plant life cycle curriculum as well as the ‘garden to table’ programs have existed at LES for years, but until now the lessons learned about seed life cycle, planting and cultivation mostly ended in the classroom. There was also a garden to table program but the harvest happened to coincide with summer vacation and students being away from school. By initiating the new integrated program involving the students in all phases of planting and harvest, the cycle of “seed to table” has been completed with students delivering fresh fruits and vegetables to the Lyons Food Pantry starting last week.
Last years’ 1st grade class, along with Eco Club students planted all the fruits, veggies and flowers from seed in the springtime. They used milk cartons from the cafeteria, donated seeds, and set them up under the new grow light stations. With some extra care by ‘master gardener” Andy Doering, these have now blossomed into a bountiful harvest. The first batch of produce was delivered to the food pantry during their regular Wednesday food distribution at the Lyons Community Church. The plan is to provide a steady stream of fresh, local produce to the pantry on an ongoing basis. This is something typically hard to come by for locals relying on the weekly food support service.
The more integrated experience teaches students not only about plant life cycles and gardening but now students are able to see how and where the finished product goes. Kids today mostly see their food coming from a grocery store, but don’t get to experience the importance of actually feeding people what is grown. The integrated classroom curriculum has plenty of room for expansion with plans to expand the Butterfly Gardens, the Bee Observatory Learning center and additional beds for increasing the volume of produce.
Over the last 10 years, Lyons-area schools have been one of the largest benefactors of LCF Community Support Grants. In fact, since 2009 more than $68,000 has gone to support a wide range of educational enrichment programs. This is in addition to the more than $30K in college scholarships that have been granted to local area graduating seniors seeking to pursue higher education.
At Lyons Elementary, grants that are typically applied for by teachers seeking to enrich their students’ experience have gone to fund everything from literacy tool kits, summer reading programs, classroom technology, Spanish-language scholarships, school field trips, homework club and more. These are programs that teachers and administrators are inspired to offer to their students, but likely would not be funded from traditional sources.
Lyons Middle/High School has also received significant support from LCF over the last decade. Grants awarded to the High School Booster Club, for example, have helped to fund the after-prom tradition of providing a safe, fun activity for juniors and seniors attending prom. Community Support Granting has also supplemented needs for band uniforms, sound equipment, student activists, robotics club and scientific equipment, and much more.
The Lyons Community Foundation as a catalyst for community inspired-change has also been in a position to fund projects that bridge the gap in work done by local government in partnership with the schools and concerned citizens wanting the make their community better. In addition to classroom and extra-curricular support, LCF funds programs that promote safety and education for area residents. Programs such as parenting classes, traffic safety, youth sports and volunteer programs have all been the beneficiary of Community Support Grants.