Eat your vegetables, kids
School district, gardening group to launch initiative to put ‘garden in every school’
by E. Assata Wright
Reporter staff writer
Mar 17, 2013 | 8000 views | 2 2 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Garden in Every School project will hopefully be an antidote to the soda, processed food, and junk food that many kids consume regularly.
The Garden in Every School project will hopefully be an antidote to the soda, processed food, and junk food that many kids consume regularly.
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Parents have long struggled with how best to get their kids to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables. Well, the Jersey City Public School District and the National Gardening Association may have struck upon a novel idea: get kids to grow their own food.

This fall, the school district will launch a new campaign known as A Garden in Every School, in conjunction with the National Gardening Association. Through the program, which will be funded from contributions from local businesses, school students throughout the district will plant, tend to, and grow their own school-based vegetable gardens.

The hope is that the students will gain a better understanding of the food they eat.

“Right now, I think we have enough money to get going in two schools,” said Mike Metallo, president and CEO of the National Gardening Association. “We expect to start planting in the early fall.”
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“Growing up in a city, we can’t even say that we’ve ‘lost the connection to the land,’ many of our children never had it.” – Carol Lester
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The first schools have yet to be selected, said Board of Education Trustee Carol Lester, chair of the board’s Science, Technology, and Green Initiatives Committee. However local developers Eric and Paul Silverman have already donated the resources to fund one garden, she said.

“I hope that the students will learn to get excited about nature, even where it can be found in very urban Jersey City,” said Lester. “I hope this project will help connect them to the earth and to healthy food, and healthy living.”

Balancing the diet

The project, she added, will hopefully be an antidote to the soda, processed food, and junk food that many kids consume regularly.

“Growing up in a city, we can’t even say that we’ve ‘lost the connection to the land,’ many of our children never had it,” Lester added.

The money donated from local businesses will go to underwrite the cost of soil testing at various school sites, the purchase of seeds and planting tools, and teaching materials for the program. The funding may also be used to modify school sites that are in need of slight renovations to accommodate a garden.

Lester said all of the school-based gardens will be lined with plastic sheeting to further protect student-grown vegetables from soil that may be contaminated, and fresh soil will be put down in which the students’ will plant their gardens.

“To plant a seed and see the little sprout come up, and then, all of a sudden after tending it, there’s a tomato there, or there’s a cucumber there – that’s really exciting,” said Lester. “And children get really excited when they experience that cycle first-hand.”

A Garden in Every School will, she said, help “Jersey City live up to its green potential” as a city that is situated between two rivers, has natural wind tunnels, and has “complete southern and eastern views of the sun.”

Since being elected to the board in 2010 Lester’s committee has helped launch a district wide energy audit, which included a review of existing solar panels and the possibility of adding more on other district property. The school board has also established a green initiatives policy for the district.

Speaking of the Garden in Every School project, Superintendent Dr. Marcia Lyles said “school gardens offer project based hands on education that integrates learning across the curriculum.”

E-mail E. Assata Wright at awright@hudsonreporter.com.

Comments
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debitaliano
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March 21, 2013
Bravo! The 'Garden In Every School' program launch planned for this Fall sounds very promising and SustainableJC.org commends JCBOE champions for supporting this. There are already several schools doing amazing work in the district, with 5 schools recently considered for the statewide Edible Jersey Magazine / NJ Farm To School Network "School Garden of The Year Award" ; in fact, the Nicholas Copernicus School - Diane Pistilli, Principal Champion - has already been recognized as a model for the state, highlighting integrated curriculum components supported by JCBOE Food Services Director Sue Solleder, who has constituted extraordinary nutrition and wellness policy actions across the district over many years, including no soda, no vending machines and farm fresh food menus. The success SustainableJC.org has seen both inside the school district and with our own partnership with the Food Services Director and NJ Farm To School Network , suggests there is an opportunity to build on the good work already happening across the district and with citywide community groups like ours who have been at this for some time and can bring needed resources and experience to the initiative.

Useful references –

New Jersey Farm To School Network - http://www.njfarmtoschool.org/

Sustainable Jersey City / Good Food Now initiative - http://sustainablejc.org/p-goodfood.php

Jersey City Public Schools Food Services - http://www.jcboe.org/boe2013/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=192&Itemid=767

Plantastic
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March 17, 2013
Sounds like a great idea. In our school we grow TickleMe Plant from a kit we got from the national Gardening association. Kids love growing the plant that moves when you Tickle it. I am sure they will love growing their own food too.

I found the TickleMe Plant Classroom kit here.

http://www.gardeningwithkids.org/tickleme-plant-classroom-growing-kit.html