Near the end of my visit, I asked Amy about school gardens. Although she’s supportive, of course, she pointed out a big logistical problem — they are usually started by a dedicated teacher or parent, and when that person moves on, the school is likely to end up with a brown field if no one new steps up. The advantage of Olivewood Gardens — and others like it — is that it is its own entity, and will last beyond just the one volunteer’s contribution.
Before we parted ways, I asked Amy for a call to action. First, she said that we need to focus on “doing better,” not necessarily “best.” (A philosophy I frequently espouse on my own site.) She also suggested that people create a “salad club” at their work or school. Once or twice a week, try having a communal salad day — everyone brings in some fresh, salad ingredients, and you make a huge salad that you all share.
Perhaps most importantly, parents must go to their kids’ schools and see what’s really happening in the cafeteria. Food isn’t always what it seems (good or bad), and you can’t really tell from the menu what is really on offer. The bottom line? Parents need to be active and involved.
What I love most about Olivewood Gardens is its optimism. The historic house, the well-kept and flourishing gardens, and the entire community are all working to help kids understand where their food comes, and why fresh, wholesome food is so wonderful.
Olivewood Gardens is funded by grants, corporations, and personal donations. To learn more, please visit the Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center website, become a fan on their Facebook page, and please consider making a donation to support their important work.