School gardens inspire students to learn, eat healthy

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The first week of school is now in the books in Palm Beach County and the kids have their work cut out for them. Not only will they have to tend to their school work but their gardens too.

Addison Hawkins, a fifth grader at Frontier Elementary School in Loxahatchee, says she can’t wait to get dirty again.

“You have to experience it yourself,” Hawkins said. “Once you eat it, then you know you can do it.”

Over the summer Hawkins and others missed the feeling of tending to their gardens. After a couple of years of working at it, people are noticing it.

“I just love to see the aha moments," Kim Goodman, a fourth-grade teacher said. "They’re learning math in how they plot the beds and how far away they need to plant each plant and they don’t even know they’re learning.”

Kim Goodman and Jeannine Rizzo, two partners in the School Garden Initiative, are seeing the fruits of their labor. In three years the program has reached 123 schools in Palm Beach County.

“Kids that grow food will try new food and are more likely to change their eating habits," said School Garden Coordinator Jeannine Rizzo.

Over the summer Rizzo hosted dozens of teachers at the Mounts Botanical Garden to train them and further the initiative across Palm Beach County schools. The teachers learned about the best fruits and vegetables to plant at schools and how to get started.

Goodman was there to cheer them on. “Kids are begging to go out in the gardens. It’s a big payoff when the kids come out of there and they’re so excited.”

To learn more about school gardens, click here.

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