Instead of the annual back-to-school ice-cream social, Northtowne Elementary School plans to host a garden-vegetable festival for parents and students in August. By then, the strawberries, tomatoes and two dozen other fruits and vegetables that students planted yesterday behind the North Side school will be ripe enough to turn into salads and salsas.
Instead of the annual back-to-school ice-cream social, Northtowne Elementary School plans to host a garden-vegetable festival for parents and students in August.
By then, the strawberries, tomatoes and two dozen other fruits and vegetables that students planted yesterday behind the North Side school will be ripe enough to turn into salads and salsas.
Amid sunshine and a steady breeze, the students worked in shifts assembling planters, spreading dirt and planting seeds and plants.
The message behind the effort: Eating healthfully and being active can be fun — and delicious.
“The kids are excited about something new,” said Hope Hughes, who works in discipline at the school. “A lot of them don’t have gardens.”
The garden is the third that the American Heart Association has helped create as part of its national Teaching Gardens program, which targets schools in low-income areas. The Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. sponsors the central Ohio gardens, which are among more than 200 nationwide.
Both Columbus Preparatory Academy, a charter school in the North Linden area, and the Columbus district’s Asbury Elementary School continue to maintain their gardens, said Brianne Harman, communication director for the central Ohio chapter of the American Heart Association.
Involving children with gardening, Harman said, can combat obesity: Kids might be inclined to eat what they grow.
“Unfortunately, so many kids don’t know a carrot comes from the ground,” Harman said. “The most-consumed vegetable by children is potatoes, and it’s mainly through french fries.”
Dozens of volunteers from Scotts were on hand to help the Northtowne students.
One group of fourth-grade girls was particularly eager to see the completed garden: They designed it.
Nine groups in teacher Amanda Blake’s fourth-grade math class submitted designs, which were put to a school-wide vote.
The winner: “Our Dream Garden” by Priscilla Addico, Labriar Franklin-Paige, Jaiquanay Jefferson, Katie Murcia and Astry Sica.
“They had a specific plan where each plant would grow,” principal Nikki Myers said.
The garden allows Myers to share her love of gardening with students and provide them with healthful food at home and school, she said. (Children from needy families can take home the produce.)
“We worked very hard,” co-designer Labriar said. “We were working on our design for, like, a week.”
The girls ensured that the garden was wheelchair-friendly and planned for the installation of steppingstones, for muddy conditions.
“We planted blueberries because they are sweet and potatoes because they are good for lunch and dinner,” Astry said. “We planted kiwi because it’s wonderful.”