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On November 16th, the Slow Food Glades to Coast chapter took part in the annual Learn Green Conference in Palm Beach County, Florida. We were joined by Slow Food USA National School Garden Program leaders, Andrew Nowak and Lauren Howe, for a day of interacting with teachers and administrators who are passionate about increasing the eco-consciousness of their students, many through school gardens.

During this environmental education conference, we made a presentation on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste called “Food Biodiversity and the Ark of Taste in the Classroom.” In this workshop, we discussed incorporating Ark of Taste plants in the school garden and using school lessons that help students explore the problems and solutions related to the lack of genetic diversity in our industrialized food and agriculture system. We also gave each attendee seedlings of the Ark of Taste Cherokee Purple tomato.

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How Can You and Your Students Help Preserve Food Biodiversity?

Andrew and Lauren did a presentation called “Creating Student Leaders in a Sustainable Food System,” which illustrated how a school can be studied and engaged with as a local food supply chain, with school gardens and local farms as the “producers,” cooking classes as “processing,” youth farmers markets and garden to cafeteria as “distributors,” the cafeteria and school store as “retail,” and finally students and staff as “consumers.” They even gave away flash drives containing Slow Food curriculum on Sensory Education and Kitchen Tools and Skills, as well as curricular connections to Florida State Standards, which were a big hit!

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We also had a Slow Food table at the exhibition hall. Numerous visitors came by the table to find out more about the Slow Food school gardening programs and received a Chipotle gift card for buy 1 get 1 burritos! Teachers with a school garden also received information on Chipotle resources for schools, including restaurant fundraisers, burrito donations for feeding volunteers, and classroom tools.

Participating in the Learn Green Conference was a wonderful experience, and it was such a pleasure to work with Andrew and Lauren. We enjoyed interacting with teachers, hearing about their unique school garden experiences, and especially exploring ways we could help them achieve their goals and improve their students experiences. It was a very exciting day!