Backyard Growers will lead our second annual Salad Days initiative in all five of Gloucester's elementary schools based on our successful 2013 pilot program. In early April, BYG staff will coordinate with school principals, teachers, and parent-led school garden teams to have all elementary school students (over 1,300 children) visit their school gardens to plant lettuce varieties. In late May all the students will visit the gardens once again to harvest the lettuce, which will go directly into the school cafeterias to be enjoyed by all of the students.
Now I bet you're thinking, "But do the children really eat the salad?" And the answer is yes. The Center for Disease Control Guide to Strategies to Increase the Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables states that home and school gardens play an important role in the consumption of fresh vegetables, and that increased exposure to fresh vegetables through gardening increases the likelihood that people will consume what they grow. By giving children the full experience of eating fresh food--from seed to fork--children gain a greater appreciation of where food comes from and are inspired to make healthier food choices. In our pilot year we had children tell us that they had never eaten salad before, and many expressed pride at having grown the lettuce themselves. Growing food as a school community also helps build school spirit--everyone has participated and thanks to everyone's efforts a meal is shared together.
Funded by Gloucester, MA (February 2014)