Originally published December 4 2011
School turns abandoned athletic field into organic garden that grows thousands of pounds of produce to serve in cafeteria
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) A Denver, Co., public school has set the bar high for reconnecting the next generation of children with the food they eat. ABC 7 News in Denver reports that Denver Green School (DGS), an urban "innovation" school, has brought new life to an unused, one-acre athletic field by turning it into an organic garden -- and the garden has been such a success in just eight months that the school is able to serve fresh produce from it to students in the cafeteria.
"We have harvested over 3,000 pounds of produce from this ground," said Megan Caley, the programs and outreach coordinator for Sprout City Farms (SCF), which partnered with DGS to create the garden. "Lots of salad greens and root vegetables, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers."
The goal of SCF is to transform unused or underused urban land into thriving agricultural space, which can then be used to grow food for local residents. And the group's partnership with DGS has been landmark in that it not only produces a plethora of fruits and vegetables, but it has also sparked a renewed interest among children in growing and eating them.
"Kids are eating healthier," added Frank Coyne, one of the founding lead partners at DGS, to ABC 7 News. "They are excited to eat the tomatoes on the salad bar, they are excited to eat the cucumbers."
Several children interviewed by ABC 7 News explained first-hand how much they enjoy playing an active role in planting and growing the crops. They also love being able to touch the plants, produce, and soil, as they observe the the fruit of their labors grow.
"It's been extremely gratifying to see the kids out here," said Chad Hagedorn, farm manager for SCF. "They are in constant awe and amazement of how food grows, and when they get to touch and really see how it happens, it's a huge experience for them both educationally and emotionally."
Besides inspiring children to eat the fruits and vegetables -- and actually enjoy eating it -- the DGS garden is also saving the school money by providing a continuous supply of healthy, organic produce at minimal cost. And because it is partially funded through a community supported agriculture (CSA) program where local residents can purchase weekly boxes of fresh produce, the program is financially viable in the long term.
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