Over 400 students filled Pavilion Center Drive in Downtown Summerlin on April 12 to sell freshly harvested fruits and vegetables from their school gardens as part of Green Our Planet’s twice-yearly, student-run Giant Student Farmers Market.
“We’re learning how this can improve the way we treat the earth,” said 11-year-old Maura Stewart. “It’s a lot about recycling and learning to sell things. It’s important not to pollute. We’re learning how to make the earth better.”
Green Our Planet works with several Las Vegas Valley schools, providing gardens, nutritional advice, chef demonstrations and lessons on entrepreneurship from Green Our Planet’s bank partners. Students from over 30 schools participated.
Ciara Byrne, Green Our Planet’s co-CEO, said the gardens teach students marketing and entrepreneurial skills.
“We made everything ourselves,” said 11-year-old Lizbeth, who attends Crestwood Elementary School. “We’ve learned a lot through the garden — like how many days it takes to grow all of this and what you need to create the crafts. We go to the garden every Friday at school. It’s interesting. I didn’t have any experience before this, but it’s inspired me to have my own.”
The program’s mission is to increase student academic performance in STEAM subjects while conserving and protecting the environment. It received a grant from the American Honda Foundation in 2014 to hire horticulturalists and Clark County School District teachers to create a STEAM-based curriculum to be taught in their school gardens. It gives students hands-on learning experience, Byrne said.
“Essentially we’re in the age of STEAM,” Byrne said. “Robots are cleaning our carpets and pools; cars drive themselves. These students need to be ready for a very different world. Starting early on is crucial. You can’t expect students to hit middle school and suddenly be interested in science. You need to engage them right from pre-K onward.”