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Cultivating Growth and Community Through Food Land Learning Projects at Carver Middle School

To generate learning projects for Food Land at Carver Middle School, WiseTribe gathered a small group of teachers to devise school-wide learning projects to honor the namesake of their school, George Washington Carver. 

George Washington Carver was a renowned American botanist, scientist, and inventor known for his contributions to agricultural science and the promotion of sustainable farming practices. His work primarily focused on crop rotation, soil conservation, and the development of products from peanuts, sweet potatoes, and other crops to improve the livelihoods of farmers in the southern United States.

Using the miraculous life of George Washington Carver as our guide, WiseTribe facilitated a process to help Carver teachers conceive of four Food Land learning projects, each designed to inspire, educate, and bring the school community closer together. 

Let's take a closer look at these innovative initiatives that are sowing the seeds of knowledge, growth, and community.

1. The Jesup Wagon: A Mobile School for Health Education

The original Jesup Agricultural Wagon was designed by George Washington Carver first in 1906. This wagon was a mobile classroom that allowed Carver to teach farmers and sharecroppers how to grow crops, such as sweet potatoes, peanuts, soybeans, and pecans.

The wagon’s name originates from Morris Jesup, a New York banker, who financed the project. The earlier model was a horse-drawn carriage that was later replaced by a mobile truck. This successful outreach model was widely adopted by the United States Department of Agriculture and mobile education vehicles continue to be modeled today.

Always inventing, George Washington Carver designed the wagon, selected the equipment, and developed the lessons for farmers. 

So we decided to embrace the maker philosophy of George Washington Carver - start where you are, use what you’ve got, and do what you can - to develop a replica of the Jesup Wagon as a moveable school within Carver Middle School so students and teachers can use it to both teach and learn about health and wellness education. 

2. Carver Middle School Cookbook: Bridging Cultures and Nutritional Literacy

The Carver Middle School Cookbook is more than a collection of recipes; it's a celebration of cultural diversity and nutritional awareness. Students and families are challenged to reinvent their favorite dishes, fostering cultural and nutritional literacy. Gathering recipes and stories enhances communication and empathy while creating the cookbook instills project management and attention to detail skills.

Students will take the lead in digitally designing the Carver Cook Book which will be on sale as a fundraiser in May at the school’s multicultural end-of-year celebration.  

3. Botanical Show & Tell: Honoring Nature's Healing Gifts

In tribute to George Washington Carver, fondly known as "The Plant Doctor," this project connects students to the wonders of nature. Families donate plant clippings and share their significance, turning students into botanists and educators. This initiative nurtures critical thinking as students explore the properties of healing plants and hone communication skills as they craft a social media campaign to educate the school community.

4. Carver's School Food System: Nurturing Sustainable Minds

The school's food system project integrates gardening, composting, and classroom cooking, creating a sustainable food ecosystem. Students learn about the environment, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture, developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Active involvement in maintaining the food system teaches responsibility and teamwork, strengthening the sense of community.

These four Food Land learning projects help prepare students for a future that values critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration. Through experiential learning within the Jesup Wagon—a mobile school for health education—students and teachers engage in hands-on experiences, strengthening these skills. Additionally, the Carver Middle School Cookbook, Botanical Show & Tell, and Carver's School Food System initiatives intricately merge elements of creativity, cultural understanding, and sustainability, nurturing a culture of health and well-being within the school and beyond. This enables our students at Carver Middle School to see education as more than textbooks and classrooms.

These projects transcend conventional classroom learning, empowering students with practical skills in project management, attention to detail, and problem-solving, while also fostering empathy and a deeper connection to nature and our world.


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