In schools across the US, the 'Teaching Garden' programme is planting good seeds among kids and cultivating their taste for heart-healthy eating.
It's not always easy to convince kids to dig into their fruits and vegetables. But an American Heart Association programme is trying to help cultivate an appreciation for healthy eating among young residents across the US. Through the Teaching Garden programme, elementary schools are given all the tools they need for students to get their hands dirty planting vegetables and herbs while learning about the benefits of heart-healthy eating.
One sunny day, third-grade teacher Julia Spangler instructed youngsters to rake the soil smooth and gently plant potatoes, cucumbers, onions and other vegetables in raised beds behind Crouse elementary in Akron, Ohio. Nine-year-old Cirya Kindall enthusiastically loosened the soil with a hoe in preparation for the planting while discussing her favourite vegetables.
“Even though tomatoes aren’t vegetables, it’s tomatoes,” the third-grader said. “And I like cucumbers, too.”
Cirya picked up a grub and showed it to her teacher.
“What is this?” she asked.
“It will eat the roots of our plants,” her teacher responded. “Put it on the pavement. Let the birds eat it.”
Participating schools receive as many as 10 raised-bed gardens, a gardening manual, gardening tools, soil, seeds and seedlings, as well as an in-depth curriculum across kindergarten through fifth grade that ties nutrition messages across all subjects.
“Many children, depending on where they’re raised, have no idea where vegetables actually come from,” says Roxia Boykin, vice-president of community benefit and diversity for the Summa Foundation. “The Teaching Garden programme gets the community engaged. Hopefully, next year we’ll support another garden.”