Building on proven lessons of the past five years, Hudson Valley Seed has developed 68 unique lessons for K, 1st and 2nd grade. The goal of the new curriculum is to ensure each year builds upon the last through an intentional thematic arc. Each year ends with a culminating project that will help the students recall all the lessons of that year.
Kindergarteners entering the school garden for the first time may not have any experience with growing food, but they will learn the foundational aspects of gardening from planting seeds to watering to harvesting within the context of the four seasons. By getting their hands in the soil and seeing the garden change throughout the year, they will learn what plants need to survive and how we, as gardeners, help to meet their needs. Together, they will also create an Alphabet book that will build their vocabulary of garden elements. Throughout this first year, the students are introduced to diverse representations of farmers, in photos and books, to show that people of all ages, ethnicities and genders are growing food, which now includes each of them!
1st graders use their basic understanding of gardening to obverse the growing space and think critically about the relationships between plants and animals in this human-influenced habitat. Students will see that most relationships in the garden (and nature, in general) are based on "who eats who," but that there are other mutually beneficial relationships as well. As "scientific" gardeners, they will both zoom in on different elements of the garden and take a bird's eye view to learn how their management of the garden attracts and supports life while providing healthy food for human beings. They will explore how wild plants have become domesticated, practice observational drawings of different varieties of squash and draw maps of their gardens as seen from above.
After deepening their understanding of growing food, 2nd graders will explore how we turn the food we grow into nutritious, delicious meals to feed our communities. Students will develop basic cooking skills as they learn how to chop vegetables, preserve their harvest through quick canning and create their own recipes, based on the vegetables growing in the garden. Other important topics include learning how to care for honeybees and how compost replenishes nutrients in our soil! Through these activities, they will begin to talk about the local food system and realize that they are connected to a larger effort in the Hudson Valley and beyond.