Exploring, Saving & Fundraising with Seeds

Exploring, Saving & Fundraising with Seeds

FROM: Clare Lafave| Island Grown Schools, Martha’s Vineyard, MA

TIME: seven 45-minute lessons

CATEGORIES: Classroom, Community, Farms + Gardens, Projects + Activities, Curriculum, Fundraiser, Marketing + Promotion, Youth Leadership

This yearlong series of seed-saving lessons are a great way to teach students about food culture, life cycles, community and business. Students learn about plant reproduction, plant seeds, save seeds, design packaging, plan and advertise a seed sale, and then hold a fundraiser for their school garden.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 teacher
  • 7 class periods, throughout the year
  • 1 flower for each student
  • A variety of open-pollinated seeds
  • Small cups
  • 1 garden bed
  • Planting tools & garden supplies
  • Origami seed packet template
  • Balance or measuring spoons
  • Blank labels
  • Envelopes for seed saving
  • Poster-making supplies


STEPS

STEP 1: TEACH PLANT REPRODUCTION. Get one large flower (daffodils work well!) for each student. Walk students through an activity of dissecting the flowers to understand plant reproduction, plant parts, and where seeds come from.

STEP 2: EXPLORE SEEDS. Collect a variety of different types of seeds in small numbered cups and spread them out throughout the room in a circle. Let students rotate through the circle, exploring the seeds (through sight, touch, and smell). At each station, students can explore and write down a guess as to what plants they came from. Talk about differences in seeds and where they come from. Share the stories of each seed and introduce students to the concept of seed saving.

STEP 3: PLANT SEEDS. Coordinate a plot in the school garden for the students, and gather[RS1]  all supplies needed for planting. Choose a planting day and be sure students are dressed and ready to be outside. Choose seeds to plant, with the intention of saving seeds in the fall. Good crops to save are lettuce, tomatoes, beans, grains, and flowers. Students plant seeds in the garden and monitor their growth. Plan for garden care through the summer and have one student paint a sign saying “Seed Saving Bed.”

STEP 4: HARVEST & SAVE SEEDS. Gather a number of clean envelopes and pens, and choose a day for harvesting seeds. Teach students about seed dormancy and how to gather seeds from their crops. Students save seeds from the garden and store them in the classroom in a clean, dry place.

STEP 5: PACKAGE SEEDS. Students design labels for each variety of seeds they save. Then students make origami seed packets (free template: http://www.instructables.com/id/Origami-Seed-Packets/). Students measure or weigh consistent amounts of seed, fill the packets, label them, and tape them closed.

STEP 6: PLAN A SALE. Students prepare for a seed sale. Students plan dates, research and set prices, designing posters and advertisements, and spread the word around their school and community.

STEP 7: SEED SALE! Students manage a seed sale before or after school to raise money for their garden. Students work with customers, make change, tell customers about the seeds and plants, record varieties sold and money earned.

Outcomes

  • Students understand the full life cycle of plants and plant parts
  • Students learn about the abundance and diversity of seeds
  • Students learn how to save seeds from one year to the next
  • Students boost math, science, art and literacy skills through lessons on measurement, advertising, plant growth and product design
  • Students learn business skills and have ownership over a product that they grew, designed, packaged and sold
  • Students fundraise for their garden
  • Community learns about and supports the school garden

VARIATIONS

Seeds could be donated to another school or community group. The seed-packing workshop can be a multi-age group activity. Students could choose which seeds they plant from an open-pollinated seed catalog.

Photos by Elizabeth Cecil


About Farm to School Recipes for Success

From garden parties to cooking contests, farm visits to STEM lessons, farm to school programs all over the Northeast are sizzling! The Farm to School Recipes for Success contest features the top ten best projects, activities, lessons and ideas chosen from dozens of “recipes” submitted by schools and programs in advance of the 2015 Farm to Institution Summit on April 7-9. This contest is sponsored by the Northeast Regional Steering Committee of the National Farm to School Network and is funded by a USDA Farm to School grant with support from the National Education Association. Visit www.farmtoinstitution.org/f2s-recipes to learn more.


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