Students at East School and Forbes Schools are growing their own gardens. They participate in all aspects of planting, growing, harvesting, and preparing nutritious seasonal produce. During the summer months, parents and students continue maintaining the gardens and sharing the benefits of having fresh produce that they’ve grown themselves. Garden Coordinators work with the schools to help the students learn about the connection between everyday food choices and the health of the community, the environment, and themselves. These lessons foster sound nutritional practice, responsible food choices, and environmental stewardship. The more the kids are involved, the more likely they are to eat healthy. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control point out that one out of every three children is expected to have Type II Diabetes by age 30. One out of every six will be diagnosed with some impairment that inhibits their learning. Nutrition plays a major role in those statistics.
A School Garden program offers students place-based experiences that impact their understanding of food, health, nature, and community. Successful garden programs can improve test scores, fight childhood obesity, promote physical activity, expose kids to healthy foods, change eating habits, and provide positive connections to nature.
Schools can develop garden programs using installed built gardens, indoor or outdoor containers, or through relationships with nearby community gardens or farms. However, in order to be successful, a school garden program must have sustained support from the school community, become an integral part of the curriculum, and be a source of relevant learning experiences for all students. The Edible School Gardens program continues to be a part of Torrington’s public schools as a result of grants from Fit Together and Litchfield Hills Food Systems.
If your community is interested in learning more about the importance of edible school gardens, more information is available at these websites:
Common Ground: High School, Urban Farm, and Environmental Education Center: http://commongroundct.org/environmental-center/school-garden-resource-center/
Edible School Gardens: http://edibleschoolgardens-ct.org/contact-us/
Connecticut School Garden Network: http://ctnofa.org/School_Resources.html
Tower Gardens; A unique vertical garden system that makes it easy to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. www.towergarden.com