- Associated Press - Saturday, June 21, 2014

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (AP) - Brooks School students will have fresh vegetables in their school cafeteria next year and they’ll come straight from their own school garden.

“Every single grade level has a bed in the garden,” said Principal Kevin Sullivan, who helped plant bushes in the garden.

There are also three community beds at the school, he said.

Students are helping to grow cucumbers, peas, beans, strawberries, lettuce, squash and butterfly bushes.

The Brooks School and the Hannigan School held ribbon-cutting ceremonies for their gardens earlier this month after an almost yearlong partnership with the Marion Institute.

Brooks now also has a gardening club, Sullivan said.

“We have almost 30 children in that Gardening Club, cleaning it up, watering and weeding,” he said. “They’re really getting into the hands-on science of watching things grow.”

The gardening project translates across the curriculum. Sullivan said students are drawing pictures of the plants, writing about what they are doing and they are graphing their work using science and math skills.

At the Hannigan ribbon-cutting ceremony, Zoe Hansen-DiBello, the Marion Institute’s Grow Education and youth coordinator who spearheaded the garden efforts, said families there would be taking home the garden vegetables.

On May 30, 40 Hannigan parents and 60 kids helped plant the vegetables and herbs in the garden, she said.

“They love it, kids are excited about it,” she said.

Cyndi Loomer, a fifth-grade teacher at Hannigan, called the garden “our new classroom. It’s going to be our window to the natural world.” She said teachers are envisioning math lessons about measurement, volume and art studies with garden design.

She said the garden was not only for students, but for the community that will come together around it.

At a planning meeting in December, Loomer said families spoke of growing cilantro for salsa and kale for Portuguese soup.

Speaking at the ribbon-cutting, Desa Van Laarhoven, the Marion Institute’s executive director, recalled an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

She said with the garden project, people chose to go far, gaining an opportunity to learn in a hands-on way and to connect people with food.

Hannigan parent Sherri Rose, who has been working in the garden with her daughter, said “We are doing (it) together.”

“That’s how I am learning, through her school,” she said.

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