by Manisha Bicchieri
School gardens are being planted nationwide, teaching students where their food comes from and encouraging healthy eating.
Ross Corners Christian Academy (RCCA) in Vestal, NY is now home to one of these community gardens. A local mother, Mercy Singer, won the organic garden after entering Stonyfield’s YoKids Lorax Sweepstakes. She decided to donate it to RCCA, where her six-year-old son Gregory attends kindergarten.
“I was just looking for the seeds,” says Singer, whose son loves Stonyfield’s YoKids Greek organic yogurt. Organic basil seeds and Stonyfield coupons were awarded to the first 15,000 sweepstakes entrants, but in addition to the seeds, Singer discovered that she’d won the grand prize – an entire organic garden.
Stonyfield’s own “Sweetitude Dude,” Ryan Lambert, was at the organic garden-planting event on the last day of school, June 12. Ryan helped to enthuse the kids about eating organic foods, and worked with RCCA students to plant 10 different organic vegetables, including cherry tomatoes, green beans and cucumbers. “To be able to get in the garden and dig in the dirt, plant seeds and watch them grow is an incredible opportunity for kids to learn,” says Lambert.
Brian Carney, Teich Garden System’s garden event leader, was also on site to provide information about the seeds being sown.
The raised-bed garden was designed by Teich Garden Systems. It features a fencing system underneath to keep burrowing animals away, as well as a wood-frame and sturdy metal fences. The 16 x16 garden, which took four days to build, also includes a watering system to make the garden low-maintenance, as well as gravel and paving stone walkways.
“We find kids will eat anything they plant themselves,” says Jamie Friedman, president of Teich Garden Systems. Lambert agrees, “When children are involved in the cultivating process, they create associations between what’s on their plate and where it comes from. It’s a complete mind shift. Kids who were once afraid of vegetables will ask for them, after tasting what they’ve grown.”
Mary Singer, who chose RCCA as the recipient of the garden from Stonyfield, hopes the student-grown organic vegetables will enable the school’s students to have healthier lunches.