Planting gardens improves kids’ views of fruits and vegetables

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Herbert Mills Elementary third graders Kaylee Crump, left, and Trinity Herald, right, help fill a garden box during an American Heart Association “teaching garden” event on May 22. Students built boxes and filled them with soil in the morning and planted vegetables in the afternoon. Throughout the summer, school families and members of the teaching garden committee will maintain and harvest the produce to send home with families. Excess produce will be shared with local food banks.
Herbert Mills Elementary third graders Kaylee Crump, left, and Trinity Herald, right, help fill a garden box during an American Heart Association “teaching garden” event on May 22. Students built boxes and filled them with soil in the morning and planted vegetables in the afternoon. Throughout the summer, school families and members of the teaching garden committee will maintain and harvest the produce to send home with families. Excess produce will be shared with local food banks.

Herbert Mills Elementary students got their hands dirty, but mom would approve.

“The American Heart Association partnered with Herbert Mills Elementary (located at 6826 Retton Road, Reynoldsburg) and Scotts Miracle-Gro to plant our fourth ‘teaching garden’ in the city,” said Brianne Harman of the American Heart Association. “Teaching gardens have proven results to help kids eat healthier – helping to reverse the childhood obesity trend.”

On May 21, the students built and planted the teaching garden as part of the American Heart Association’s, “My Heart My Life” program, which is aimed at building healthy bodies and minds. The students, spanning grades kindergarten through grade four, spent the day building and filling planter boxes.

“The goal is to educate kids on health and wellness and get them eating healthier and teaching gardens are proven to do just that,” said Harman.

The students applied a variety of curriculum, provided by the American Heart Association, as they rotated through various stations, including: math and science as they constructed and filled the planters with soil; health and nutrition when they participated in vegetable and one-bite salsa tasting with voting for both; English and art as they wrote or drew what the teaching garden means to them; and physical education as all students participated in the school’s annual Jump Rope for Heart.

According to Harman, throughout the summer, families from the school and the teaching garden committee will maintain and harvest the produce to be sent home with the school’s families. Excess produce will be shared with local food banks. She said numerous studies show participation in school garden programs can have a positive impact on student’s consumption of fruits and vegetables.

“Childhood obesity is an epidemic putting children at great risk for heart disease and stroke, our nation’s number one and number four killers,” said Harman.

According to the American Heart Association:

•Nearly one in three American children are overweight or obese.

•French fries are the most common source of vegetables consumed by children and make up one-fourth of their vegetable intake. Juice, which may lack important fiber found in whole fruits, accounts for 40 percent of children’s daily fruit intake.

•Less than one percent of the adult population and nearly no children ages 12-19 are in ideal heart-health, in large part due to the lack of a healthy diet.

“If the childhood obesity trend is not reversed, experts predict that this generation will be the first to live shorter lives than their parents,” said Harman. “To make progress in its mission to improve the health of all Americans and reduce cardiovascular mortalities, the American Heart Association must continue to create and manage programs that combat this epidemic. With the teaching gardens and partnerships with organizations such as the garden’s sponsor, ScottsMiracle-Gro, the organization can begin to reverse the childhood obesity trend.”

For information about teaching gardens, or to find out how you can contribute to  the school’s gardening efforts, call (614) 396-4338 or email columbuswalk@heart.org.

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