“We like to think of the Garden Party as a way to bring together the local food community,” said Stephanie Marker, Development Fellow for Schoolyard Roots. “We love our local farmers and local business owners, and the Garden Party is an opportunity to feature what they have to offer to the Tuscaloosa community, and get the word out about our mission at the same time.”
Restaurants with strong ties to the community, such as Dreamland, Chuck’s Fish, Sweet Home Food Bar, Local Roots, and Glory Bound will be providing dishes for the event. Attendees can also try local brews from Band of Brothers Brewery, Druid City Brewing, and Black Warrior Brewing Company.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Schoolyard Roots’ mission to help Tuscaloosa area elementary schools start and implement learning gardens for their students. From a young age, this teaches children healthy eating habits and sustainability practices that will influence the way they think and grow.
“Our garden lessons pique students’ curiosity about the fruits and vegetables we help them grow,” Marker said. “They feel so proud to have planted, tended, and harvested their own food, and that feeling of pride in their hands-on involvement in the process gets them excited about trying fruits and vegetables that they might not have tasted before they went through our program. We provide them with experiential education, which gets them using all their senses and applying academic concepts in a real-world situation, and they really get engaged with their course material and get excited about learning.”
Eventually, Schoolyard Roots hopes to have a learning garden at every school in Alabama. Once a new garden is set up, Schoolyard Roots provides supplies and trains teachers to incorporate the garden into their lesson plans. Representatives visit the school often to lead lessons and assist teachers in adjusting to an outdoor learning environment. After the first few years, each school becomes responsible for maintaining their garden.
“The absolute favorite part of my job is seeing the children's reaction to learning about food systems and watching them try new vegetables for the first time,” said Schoolyard Roots Executive Director Stephanie Reinhart. “Our hands-on curriculum encompasses so many facets: increasing children’s knowledge of food systems; expanding their list of favorite fruits and vegetables; experiential education lessons that meet Alabama Education standards; and working every day to curb the trend of childhood obesity by getting children to make healthy food choices.”
To learn more about Schoolyard Roots, or to get involved, visit schoolyardroots.org. Tickets to the Garden Party can be bought in advance at thegardenparty.brownpapertickets.com.