The SEED School Gets New Good Food Garden

Shantella Y. Sherman | 6/11/2009, 12:03 a.m.

Students who attend the SEED School of Washington, D.C., got a respite from reading, writing and arithmetic on Wed., June 3. Instead, the preppy bunch got down in rich, black soil and planted a garden chock full of fruits and vegetables during the unveiling of their new €Good Food Garden,€ while Food Network personality and cooking expert Aida Mollenkamp and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack cheered them on.

Good Food Gardens is a charitable program created by the Food Network, Share Our Strength and Teich Garden Systems to provide educational, sustainable gardens to schools and community centers in need. The aim of the program is to educate families on the importance of incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into their daily diets, and to inspire healthy eating habits for life.

€I love plants and this garden will give us fresh food in addition to helping the environment,€ said Mugabe Bowden, 14.
The SEED School, a public school located in Southeast, operates as a tuition-free boarding school that provides a high-performing, college-preparatory curriculum for students from underserved communities.
Charles Adams, head of School for SEED D.C., welcomed guests to the event and expressed his excitement about the partnership between the USDA and the students.

€This event today incorporates the Three Es that we strive for at the SEED School: excellence, effort, and exposure. Our seventh grade boys, who believe that they can be both cool and smart, will plant and help grow this garden. They, along with other members of their seventh grade class, will demonstrate the beauty and miracle of growth but also enable our young people to become involved with the movement for good food, healthy lives and a sustainable planet.€

Vilsack applauded the students for their efforts in wanting to grow their own food. He said it would help them €eat better and gain awareness of proper nutrition, but also allow them to become stewards of proper nutrition for their families, those in the larger D.C. area community.€
Ms. Donna "The Detention Lady" Lawson, works alongside one of the SEED pupils, Zechariah Rogers, 13 , planting canteloupe and squash plants. Photo by Shantella Sherman
€This garden stands as an example of what the USDA would like to see across the country. We believe children in underserved communities deserve a hands-on experience growing delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables,€ he said.
On April 21, President Barack Obama signed an historic bill charging the USDA with doing all in its power to expose students across the country to proper nutrition. The bill set a goal of ending childhood hunger by 2015. Vilsack said that despite economic hardships, the USDA was committed to reaching that goal.

€Due to the recession, 32 1/2 million Americans are on food stamps today, yet we have the political power in the White House, to end childhood hunger by 2015. President Obama€s first set of instructions with regard to this bill was to ensure that all young people had nutritious and good quality food. He wanted everyone to know how important you guys are to him,€ Vilsack said.

The ceremony included the actual planting of vegetable and fruit plants in the garden by seventh grade students, and a taste-test of a few items previously grown in other Good Food Gardens.

Students rolled up their sleeves, slipped their hands into their gardening gloves and got down in the rich soil to plant green, yellow and red peppers, watermelons and pineapples. Instructions were given to students on how to care for the plants and which plants should be grown alongside one another.

Imani Graham, 12, a soon-to-be food connoisseur sampled the fruits and vegetables that had been grown at another Good Food Garden. She immediately noticed the difference between fresh and canned.

€I know the food will be fresh and healthier for me so I would like being in the garden; but not the insects. I guess I could get some help with the insects,€ Graham said.

The self-contained garden was planted on the property of the SEED School and will be fully maintained by the students, whose gardening skills will become a part of their seventh grade civics and life science curricula.