South Bronx Teacher Inspires Edible Wall Program

Stephen Ritz, a teacher in South Bronx, New York, started something extraordinary at Discovery High School with his “edible wall” project. Claiming to have started the project by accident, the initial results were remarkable enough to encourage Ritz to dig deeper into the project. Ritz proceeded to build a vertical wall from which to grow vegetables that could easily fit in his science classroom. Soon his students became invested in their growth and they all watched the plants flourish, and Ritz saw his class attendance rise from 43% to an astonishing 93%. “Students come to school to take care of their plants – they want to see them succeed. Along the way, the kids succeed too. That’s great, because if I have their bodies in school, I have their brain.”

Tasting one’s own freshly grown food is a very empowering experience and one that should not only be reserved for the most privileged. Ritz has shown that such an experience is both possible and popular in a low income area and if it can be successfully delivered to a school where there are the added obstacles that Ritz faced, it certainly can be done anywhere. Having gained this knowledge, Ritz has spread his project around the world while he continues to teach in New York. As shown by this example in the South Bronx, school gardens are valuable in so many ways and not only can they fit within traditional curriculum but they can also help to enhance it and further engage students.

You can read the full story on The Guardian’s website.