Funds will Start School Garden at Washington Elementary in Oshkosh
ThedaCare is helping a school garden project take root in Oshkosh. A $1,670 donation from the health care system will be used to design, create, build and maintain a school garden project at Washington Elementary School in Oshkosh. Growing Oshkosh, Inc. will take ownership of the project to help get it started, said Dani Stolley, founder and president of the non-profit, organic urban Oshkosh farm that also works with schools to start their own gardens.
“The school garden not only provides a hands-on, outdoor learning experience for each and every student, but also be a neighborhood/school-based resource for fresh, healthy, nutritious, and delicious foods,” she said. “All food grown in the garden – vegetables, fruits, herbs, and edible flowers – will be solely for the schools’ use.”
Volunteer teams made up of students and their families, school neighbors, and school staff members will work in the garden and volunteers get to keep the food they harvested. In addition, Growing Oshkosh has a school garden coordinator to help maintain the garden through the summer.
Letting the students get their hands dirty in the garden will encourage them to eat more fruits and vegetables, said Andrew Collins, MD, a pediatrician with ThedaCare Physicians-Oshkosh. “When kids work in a garden and do the work themselves, they get excited and have pride in what they have grown. They are also more willing to try something new when they’ve done the work themselves,” he said. “We all need to eat more fruits and vegetables and I think the garden will help with that. This new source of healthy food will be right there and easily accessible.”
Stolley said Washington Elementary serves a diverse student population and has students who may go hungry on the weekends when no free breakfasts and lunches are available.
“School gardens also help beautify neighborhoods, attract pollinators like birds, bees and insects and act as a central, inclusive and awe-inspiring gathering spot for students, who rarely spend quality time outdoors breathing fresh air and getting exercise,” she said.
ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, ThedaCare Medical Center-New London, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, ThedaCare At Work, and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is one of the largest employers in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.