Each year, Bonnie Plants distributes free cabbage plants to third-grade classrooms. First launched in 1995, the program awards a $1,000 scholarship to one student in each participating state. Last year, more than 1.2 million students from 45 states participated in the program. To register your school, visit bonnieplants.com.
Garden and Community
The George Washington Carver Food Park in Nashville, Tenn., is an oasis for learning about composting and for nourishing the community. “Some people grow tomatoes and corn. We grow compost. Our crop is soil,” says Sizwe Herring, executive director of Earthmatters Tennessee. On a three-acre plot donated by the state, Herring and his team of volunteers dote on organic discards like coffee grounds and leaves that “don’t belong in a land fill.” For more information go to carverfoodpark.com .
Health Barn USA
Kids dig in to learning at Health Barn USA, located in Bergen County, N.J. Founded by Stacey Antine, a registered dietitian and former food marketing professional in New York City, Health Barn USA aims to get children excited about good food. Describing Health Barn as a “health education program,” Antine says, “I want kids to have an amazing, natural experience.” During 10- to 12-week programs after school and during summers, children, ages 3 to 15, grow their own fruits and vegetables, learn to cook with the farm-fresh foods and go on shopping expeditions with educators who talk about fresh ingredients and the positive effects of making good choices. For more information, go to healthbarnusa.com
While other boys were down at the swimming hole or playing baseball, Lee Jones was picking green beans and driving a tractor. Today, he and his family operate one of the country’s most successful specialty produce farms for chefs, The Chef’s Garden. They also are working with chefs nationwide through the nonprofit Veggie U to spread the word to kids about the wonders of vegetables. Soil (not dirt), earthworms, seeds, grow lights, root view boxes and delicious vegetable samples are just part of Veggie U’s Earth to Table program, a fourth-grade curriculum kit sent to more than 625 schools across the country. Kids follow seeds from the earth to the table as they learn about building a nutrient-rich soil, nourishing their bodies and creating tasty dishes that star vegetables.
The National Farm to School Network
Kids in York and Kittery, Maine, now have grass-fed beef on their lunch room menu; locally caught seafood is served in Sitka, Alaska, schools; and Boyle County, Ky., students enjoy lettuce grown by fellow student Tucker Huntsinger through his Future Farmers of America project. More than 2,000 other project like these find support in the National Farm to School Network that aims to serve healthy meals, improve student nutrition, provide health and nutrition education, and support local farmers. To find a Farm to School program near you, go to farmtoschool.org.