Students Grow with the Garden Program
Students participate in every aspect of creating and harvesting a full garden of produce in the two Elementary School Gardens for Spring, Summer, and Fall (and sometimes indoor Winter Classes too)! After going virtual during 2020, in 2021 we saw a gradual return of students to the garden, and were back in full session by 2022. We continue to build the program, in 2023 we were awarded a special grant that allowed us to add a co-coordinator position to help keep up with the enthusiastic participation of students, including the pre-K classes now - we enjoy introducing the garden to the 4-year-olds! Summer school often brings the older grades to in-person learning for the summer school sessions, as we also reach out to summer programs such as Pathfinders and Project Focus that includes teens. We invite special guests to the garden, including a fun and informative visit from the MSU Extension Team to talk about careers in agriculture and making nutritious snacks. Our favorite local beekeeper often joins us for a week to share her knowledge of bees, pollination, and honey with the students - she even brought a honeycomb with live bees! Look for more collaborations with partners and special guest in the year ahead.
Welcome to our Virtual Garden! Enjoy these Garden Videos and Snack Making from your family home.
During Fall 2020, as students continued with distance learning, CCD wanted to ensure they still experienced Garden Time. Our Garden Coordinator, Antonette Robinson, and our garden volunteers helped create Garden Time videos, complete with themes, healthy recipes, and activity sheets. The Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System included these materials in the weekly Learning Plans for students, and also, to make it even more complete of an External Exposure experience, their food service provider, Chartwell, sent home to each student/family the ingredients necessary to make the recipe shown in the video. Take a look, we hope you enjoy these as well!
Click on the image below to play videos
Garden Time #1: Parts of A Plant
See bottom of page for worksheets related to this video.
The recipe that is shown in the video can be found at:
For additional Storytime Video on Parts of Plants that we eat, click on the link below:
Garden Time #2: Garden Values
See bottom of page for Reading Activities related to this video.
The recipe shown in the video is at bottom of page as well.
Garden Time #3: Art in the Garden
See bottom of page for activity sheet.
The recipe shown in the video is at bottom of page as well.
Operation Healthy Heights
Access to healthy food and nutrition: School and community gardens
Disparities often affect availability of food options in a community. To increase access to healthy food and knowledge about nutrition, CCD partnered with the schools and created gardens at Edgewood Elementary and Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary. These "outdoor classrooms" share the joy of gardening while teaching science, reading, and math skills during each session. Learning how to make healthy snacks from the produce is part of the fun. Additionally, students take a field trip each year to a local blueberry farm to learn more about agricultural businesses and pick blueberries to take home. More information about the school garden program:
Since the summer of 2011, MHPSA elementary students have participated in hands-on gardening experiences. At the Edgewood and MLK school gardens, students also enjoy preparing and sampling healthy snacks made from their harvested produce. Our Green team of students from the after school program at MLK meet weekly in the OHH Garden room to start seeds and maintain watering - and watching them grow, including lettuce, onions, mustard greens, spinach and more!
During our summer months, students attending Summer School and Project Focus at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School rotate through the garden - maintaining the garden, harvesting and preparing healthy snacks with the garden produce. At Edgewood School, we pair up with MHHS Boys and Girls Club kids, who visit the garden two days a week, maintaining the garden and taking all the produce back to their site and homes to prepare and enjoy.
During the months of February and March, the program continues with "Winter Garden Club: Beyond the Garden Walls" MLK. Students in grades 2nd through 4th grade visit the school's garden room and learn about Butterflies, Bees, and other Pollinators; grades 5th and 6th engage in activities focused around the Muskegon County Fair and 4H programs related to Health, Nutrition, and Fitness. Special guests from area organizations, such as the local Muskegon beekeepers association, join in and help keep the interest and momentum of the garden program going all year. Beyond developing the knowledge and love for growing their own food, the lessons include science, math, and reading integration in each session.
Operation Healthy Heights is made possible by a grant from the
HEALTHY Muskegon initiative of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County.
Chef Demonstrations and Tastings
In 2019, CCD launched the "Heights Garden to Family Table" initiative that brought the healthy foods out of the gardens and into different neighborhoods across Muskegon Heights, highlighting and celebrating culturally significant dishes. Chef Edriese Jenkins of Executive Chef Catering provided cooking lessons and tastings using fresh ingredients from the garden. A recipe contest helped create a "Flavors of the Community" recipe book. The program included researched historical information about the dishes served, organized and presented by Steven Winston of the Muskegon Heights business Culturally Vigilant. This Chef Demonstration series was so successful, we brought back Chef Jenkins to present at the CCD Annual Winter Gathering of Friends, and we look forward to scheduling more neighborhood presentations in the future. LOOK FOR THE MOBILE "Garden To Go" Coming Soon!
Heights Garden to Family Table initiative was made possible by a grant from the
Sister Simone Courtade fund of Mercy Health
Seeds of Hope Community Garden
CCD also manages the Seeds of Hope Community Gardens at Barney & Leahy, near Covenant Community Church. Garden beds are available for neighbors and groups to participate, and the produce harvested is offered to members of the community. The Muskegon Heights youth 4H club, the Busy Bees, maintain a garden bed at Seeds of Hope each year. A beautiful pavilion and picnic area was recently added, encouraging community gatherings at this serene space.
A collaborative effort by CCD, McLaughlin Grows, Nelson Neighborhood, Jefferson Street Garden, and LOVE Community Gardens to promote and support community gardens in urban Muskegon and Muskegon Heights. Gardeners meet at various gardens throughout the gardening season: working, learning, sharing resources and healthy snacks and recipes.