Seed to Plate takes root in the classroom

Seed to Plate takes root in the classroom
Community News Group / Robert Wirsing

A health conscious program has become a budding success among local students and their teachers.

On Monday, June 13, Councilman James Vacca and GrowNYC members visited P.S. 71 to view a lesson being taught to 5th graders as part of GrowNYC’s Greenmarket Youth Education’s ‘Seed to Plate’ curriculum.

Returning to his alma mater, Vacca spoke with students about what they learned from completing the program.

During the lesson, students shared their extensive knowledge about nutrition; planting and harvesting produce and their favorite moments.

“The kids really enjoyed learning how to prepare salads and they learned that can they can actually enjoy eating healthy foods,” said Harrison Margolis, fifth grade teacher.

Margolis said students visited the Queens County Farm Museum and prepared salads using vegetables from the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Greenmarket in Manhattan under the supervision of a trained chef.

One memorable moment according to students was a video presentation on how hotdogs are chemically processed.

The health conscious councilman shared his advice with students on healthy living which included substituting white bread and ground beef with rye bread and turkey and using natural seasonings such as rosemary and turmeric instead of salt.

“As the borough that is ranked last in health, I wish all of the students in our district had these students’ knowledge about nutrition,” said Vacca.

The councilman has provided a $24,000 grant to expand the Seeds to Plate program into next year with half of the funds going toward establishing a school garden in front of P.S. 71.

Launched in the spring of 2012, Seed to Plate is a ten-lesson, fifth and sixth grade in-school curriculum addressing the need to teach students about the food system and eating healthy.

Designed in collaboration with the Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education and Policy at Teachers College Columbia University, Seed to Plate’s engaging curriculum consists of lessons regarding agriculture, farmers markets, cooking and nutrition.

“Healthy eating is something that’s been lost in our city for a long time as we mostly relied on eating microwavable or jarred meals because of their convenience,” said Cheryl Huber, Greenmarket at GrowNYC assistant director.

She said having students visit farmers markets exposes them to a much wider array of more nutritious fruits and vegetables compared to that of grocery stores.

Huber noted this is the first time Seeds for Plate has been introduced into the Bronx, with P.S. 71 and P.S. 97 leading the way.

Katheleen Bornkamp, P.S. 97 principal, confirmed this and said the program has received great feedback from students and teachers alike.

“It’s a wonderful program helping to teach our city kids about farm life and sampling food that they’ve never had before like yellow carrots or turnips,” she said.

P.S. 97 plans to have the Seeds to Plate curriculum return for next year.