SOAR: Its Origins and Goals
In the spring of 1997, Dr. Raid initiated school gardens at two Palm Beach County elementary schools, simply as a voluntary effort to remind students about where their food actually comes from. The effort created a spark, as innovative teachers and principals quickly latched onto the program, using the gardens to teach the entire curriculum, from science, math and English, to history, geography, and even music. All of these topics could be taught in a fun, hands-on manner. Formerly apathetic students actually looked forward to coming to school.
It was now Dr. Raid’s turn to be educated, as he witnessed again and again a surge in self-esteem by students participating in the program. By gardening, they had transitioned from ‘care-recipient’ to ‘care-giver’ and they loved the challenge.
In the intervening years, over 80 schools throughout the state have created school gardens, with thousands of students participating. With UF providing gardening resources and stimulating lesson plans, it is hoped that even more schools will be anxious to SOAR (Share Our Agricultural Roots).