It’s not every day you eat something that was growing outside your door a couple hours before.

But that’s exactly what students at Sully Elementary did on Thursday, November 16th.

Six weeks before, the students had begun taking part in the Salad Science program sponsored by the Audubon Naturalist Society. The first step is planting lettuce seeds – seeds that turned into seven beds full of lettuce.

The lettuce was harvested on November 16th and served to fifth-graders in the cafeteria for lunch. The fifth-graders then served salad to kindergartners as part of a Salad Science Celebration. Lettuce and other toppings donated by the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Department of School Nutrition Services supplemented Sully’s harvest.

“Most of these kids have had very little experience with gardening or farming,” said Ellen McDougall, an environmental educator with the Audubon Naturalist Society. “This has been a very eye-opening experience for them to really understand where their food comes from and the challenges farmers face in growing their crops.”

Salad Science started in Montgomery County, Md., 10 years ago. For the past two years the Audubon Society has piloted the program in Virginia. Sully is eligible to participate because it is part of the Audubon Society’s Green Kids program.

Salad Science is a cross-curricular program that aligns with Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs), has STEAM components and offers authentic learning opportunities for Project Based Learning and One to The World initiatives. Teachers have the option of incorporating a Salad Science Journal in which students make predications, collect data and make observations. Lessons cover a variety of topics from plant lifecycles, edible parts of a plant, nutrition, decomposition, natural resources and understanding where our food comes from.

The Audubon Society generally runs the Salad Science program at one grade level. Sully took the program one step further. Its kindergarten and fifth grade teams worked collectively to “grow together.” Fifth-graders received “teacher training” lessons so that they could help the kindergarten classes with seed planting, garden-bed watering and plant thinning.