Gardens can be outdoor classrooms and provide unique learning opportunities for people of all ages. Farmer D visits Morningside Elementary School in Atlanta where students help him install an edible garden while learning where their food comes from, how to plant and grow fresh vegetables, and the pleasures of being outside. Once the school garden is set up, it becomes an outdoor classroom for science, math, language arts, English, and other classes.  (Michael Lindsay/MNN)

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Farmer D: Hey, I’m Farmer D. I’m over here at Morningside Elementary School.  We are in the process of transforming their courtyard into a vibrant, edible garden.  We’ve got a great group of volunteers out today from Whole Foods Market and from the school.  We’ve been working on this project for many months now.  It’s a pretty dynamic design. We’ve got five pie-shaped beds with wooden beds, with paths in between them, so they’re all custom cut in design. And then we’ve got about five nice 3 X 6, big, deep, raised cedar beds, and then three 2 X 8 raised cedar beds here in the Native American garden.  There’s quite a bit going on in this garden.  It’s a really cool space.  The benefit of a school garden is that the youth that go to school -- this is an elementary school -- can actually come out and learn about where their food comes from, and the science classes, the math classes, the arts, language arts, social studies, they all use the garden for teaching different aspects of their curriculum.  We have all of these kids coming out to actually -- all the classes will plant.  You guys are all going to be farmers this morning.  So, some vegetables like it hot, like the tomatoes, and the peppers, and the okra.  And some like it cold, like beets, and cabbages, and collards, and kale, and lettuce.  Do you guys like lettuce?

[kids responding]

Farmer D:  Yeah, no.  Some of you do, huh?  Every month, they have a produce of the month.  So they -- we have something coming in, in the garden. Like, coming up here in October, it’s going to be sweet potatoes, and that one day in the month, we source local sweet potatoes from Georgia, organic, from Georgia farms, preferably organic, but definitely local sweet potatoes.  So, the whole school has kind of a theme around this produce of the month, and so that the kids learn about what foods come into season when.  They’re going to be planting kale, and cabbage, and lettuce, and carrots, and beets, and a whole bunch of more fun stuff.  It’s been fun but very challenging.  I’m going to get back to work and help these guys out.

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Daron Joffe is not your typical farmer. Joffe is a 30-something eco-entrepreneur with more than a dozen projects around the nation. Actress Jennifer Garner thinks his turnips “rock” and billionaire entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson wants him to develop an organic farm at his exclusive New Jersey spa. Known as Farmer D, Joffe also creates Farmer D Organic Compost out of green waste from Whole Foods stores in the southeast U.S. In addition to innovative internship programs that help at-risk youth learn about agriculture, Joffe is involved in creating and sustaining small organic farms in developments around the U.S. Want to know more? Watch all the In the Field videos with Joffe on MNN.

In the Field: Edible garden installation
Video: Farmer D teaches young students how to plant a garden.