Culture & Entertainment

The edible garden: giving deprived students a reason to attend school

By: Teresa Sousa
Canadian Living
Culture & Entertainment

The edible garden: giving deprived students a reason to attend school

By: Teresa Sousa
[HTML1] Sometimes, we come across a story that is so simple in concept and beautiful in nature that it just warms our heart. The student body at Discovery High School in New York's South Bronx district is made up of many students with special education needs, learners of the english language, in foster care or homeless. The struggle to survive for these kids is very real.  As a result, the graduation rate was extremely low. Keeping them in school and attending classes was a difficult task. That was, until Stephen Ritz, a teacher at the school, figured out a way to give these deprived students a reason to want to come to school. The Green Bronx Machine started off accidentally. Stephen was given a box of daffodil bulbs, hid them behind the classroom radiator and forgot about them. Surprising both him and his students, the flowers grew. The steam from radiator forced the bulbs to grow.  He decided that together with his students, they could grow something even greater. They started gardening and landscaping in abandoned lots and eventually built "edible walls" growing fresh vegetables inside the school. Not only did the plants grow, they flourished. The kids were responsible for watering and planting. They loved watching them succeed. Attendance increased from 43% to 93%. The kids were succeeding too. "That's great, because if I have their bodies in school, I have their brain." said Stephen. "When kids learn about where their food comes from, it changes their world view. The ability to bring healthy, fresh food into schools and teach children that input equals output is absolutely spectacular." And this isn't just about growing plants, either. The kids have gone from being consumers to being producers. They are being exposed to curriculum based subjects like math, science and literacy. They are selling the plants, working with major stores and have access to cooking, nutrition and health. With a concept that is so simple in nature and so beautifully executed, Stephen has not only figured out a way to nourish their bodies, he's also figured out a way to nourish their minds. He's made it possible for them to have a brighter future and a better quality of life and through it all, they're becoming better versions of themselves. Stephen has made it possible for them to succeed and is an inspiration to us all. The world needs more of that.   photo courtesy @ asdfawev/flickr.com  
Share X
Culture & Entertainment

The edible garden: giving deprived students a reason to attend school

Login