Partnership Spotlight: Baltimore City Public Schools Farm to School Program

“I would love to have my students realize:

…how food will affect their overall health – bodies/minds/teeth/energy
…how to make better choices when surrounded by unhealthy options.
…where their food comes from.
…how we use food to bring people/communities together and learn from one another.

I feel Pilot Light would be great to use in multiple subjects, making connections in literacy, science, social studies, and even math!”

Laura Alminde, 2021-22 Food Education Fellow & Kindergarten Teacher

 

Pilot Light and Community Partnerships

Laura Alminde teaches kindergarten for Baltimore City Schools and selected The Baltimore City Public Schools Farm to School Program as her community partner through Pilot Light’s Food Education Fellowship. These community partnerships are an important part of the Fellowship and complement a teacher’s Pilot Light food education lessons, creating a deeper impact for students.

Baltimore City Public Schools Farm to School Program

The district’s Farm to School (F2S) team, part of the Food & Nutrition Services department, offers an array of in-person and virtual programs which promote experiential education that connects students to nature and food systems. *Their services focus on three core areas:

  1. Food education for lifelong healthy habits.
  2. Nature-based exploration for wholeness and academic enrichment.
  3. Food system engagement for active citizenship, leadership development, and career skills. 

The district also owns the 33-acre Great Kids Farm, a hub for its F2S programs.

Hands-on Learning Experiences for The Little Red Hen

Ms. Alminde recently used Pilot Light’s approach to create lessons for her unit on farms. For two lessons, she worked with Laura Genello, a F2S Specialist with her community partner, to create hands-on learning experiences to support the kindergarten lessons.

As part of the curriculum, students read The Little Red Hen, a classic story about a resourceful little bird who was determined to make bread from scratch. You may remember that the Little Red Hen began by planting her own wheat and at the end of the story, she pulls a fragrant loaf of homemade bread from her oven. Many of the students didn’t know that bread was something you could make at home.  

Ms. Genello (whom the students know as Farmer Laura) brought stalks of wheat to the class, then talked about wheat and other types of seeds that we eat. Students were given a variety of seeds, such as beans, dried peas and rice, to touch and sort. They also sequenced the steps the Little Red Hen completed so that she could enjoy freshly baked bread. 

Sensory Lesson on Seeds

For a second lesson on seeds, Ms. Genello created an incredible experience on the five senses that students absolutely loved. Everyone was given a cob of corn and they picked off the kernels (which are seeds). Ms. Genello then cooked the popcorn right in front of them. The students were in awe as they heard the corn popping and loved eating something that they had picked themselves. 

Ms. Alminde commented that these were phenomenal experiences, and she can’t wait to have the Great Kids Farm F2S team back to her classroom.

This is just one of the community partnerships coming to life this year through Pilot Light’s Food Education Fellowship. Local community partners, like Great Kids Farm, help create relevant, hands-on lessons for Pilot Light classrooms. 

*Farm to School | Baltimore City Public Schools, https://www.baltimorecityschools.org/farm-school, Accessed on February 18, 2022. 

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