June 9, 2013

The city of Grand Prairie wants to make sure its young people know something about where their food comes from. That’s why every K-5 elementary student in Grand Prairie ISD visits the organic exhibition garden at the Natural Science Education Center at Kirby Creek Park every year. 

(Photo: Ruth Bracken shows off this season's crops. Photos by Julie Thibodeaux

“It helps kids develop an appreciation for nature, composting and taking care of the environment,” said Ruth Bracken, senior environmental specialist.  

The educational garden, located at 3303 Corn Valley Road, had been used by Grand Prairie ISD as a teaching tool since 1998. The program blossomed, and in 2011, a $375,000 upgrade added handicap-accessible walkways, raised garden beds, rain collection and compost bins. Today, about 14,000 students pass through annually. The city of Grand Prairie also offers a certified course in composting for adults at the facility.

Maintained by Master Composters and volunteers, the garden's fare goes beyond the typical backyard produce. This spring, they grew asparagus, kale, eggplant, grapes and even quinoa, in addition to tomatoes and okra. The organically grown bounty gives students something to strive for at their own school gardens.

Tracy Hollis, director of the Natural Science Education Center, said when kids are first introduced to gardening, many are dumbfounded.

They don’t know where their food comes from. They don’t have a clue what 'organically grown' means,” she said. “This is an authentic type of learning that we hope will stick in their brains a little better.”

Photo: Fran Witte, public environmental education expert for the city of Irving, recently toured the garden with Women in the Environment.


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Julie Thibodeaux covers environmental issues, green topics and sustainable living for Green Source DFW. Previously, she worked as an editor and writer at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Send your green bulletin items to Julie@greensourcedfw.org. Follow us on Facebook and Pinterest.