“The Cafeteria Needs To Become A Classroom”

New Haven’s Land Trust has helped put vegetables in the ground at schools across New Haven. Now it wants to help kids and their families start cooking them.

That goal emerged at the annual meeting of the New Haven Land Trust, held recently at the United Way’s offices on James Street.

The Trust reported that along with a group called Grow New Haven, it has helped plant successful gardens at six city schools: Barnard, Edgewood, Clinton Avenue, Davis, John C. Daniels, and Saint Martin De Porres.

“It’s a challenge to keep up a successful garden, and especially gardens in schools, because school is not in regular session in the summer. There needs to have a way to keep the gardens going.” said Trust Executive Director Chris Randall.

“Digging in dirt is good for the soul”, Maria Tupper (pictured), an experienced and active gardener, said at the meeting.

Dan Levinson has been involved in creating nearly 40 gardens in schools throughout Connecticut. “We can learn from our mistakes in Bridgeport to help create New Haven school gardens. We need to teach communities that putting gardens in schools is a really powerful way to teach kids,” he said.

At Edgewood School, volunteers including parents and students were able to upkeep a flourishing garden throughout the summer months. “The children learned, and there was a constant amount of vegetables being produced. The gardeners formed a community,” said Tupper, who helps in the Edgewood School garden.

The next step, speakers said, is developing a program to teach kids at the schools how to prepare nutritious meals with the food that grows in the gardens.

“The whole goal here is to figure out a way to connect gardens to stomachs to curriculum,” said John Turenne, president of a group called Sustainable Food Systems. Turenne works with elementary school students to teach them how to cook healthy food. “It’s important to teach kids where food comes from. That’s why we’re so passionate about school gardening, because it shows the whole cycle. The cafeteria needs to become a classroom.”

Ariela Martin, a student at Cooperatives Arts & Humanities High School, is an Independent contributing reporter.

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posted by: J.R. Logan on May 31, 2012  5:09pm

I recorded the opening statements of each of the speakers. For those who want to dig in more it gives you a great overview of what is happening and what is possible from different perspectives.

John Turenne from Sustainable Food Systems http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SI98Ij3DBIc

Maria Tupper a Community Garden Committee Member:

Dan Levinson of the Green Village Initiative: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MK9JTE43brk