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Edible Classroom—Giving Kids a New Future

By Fredrica Syren:

I don’t know about you, but in my experience, classrooms in general are never great looking and tend to be boring. But imagine a classroom filled with edible plants. Now that’s a classroom I would look forward to going to every day. Teacher Stephen Ritz has made that a reality at Discovery High School in New York’s deprived South Bronx. He established a project of growing plants and vegetables in the school. Ritz’s venture now has become the Green Bronx Machine that now helps other schools in the U.S. create their own agriculture program in an effort to teach children about healthy eating and environmental awareness.

green-bronx-orgThe project began when, in an effort to beautify their neighborhood and bring communities together, the school created landscape gardens in abandoned lots. They then began beautifying the their school by planting and growing food indoors and in vertical planters all around the school.

The kids have really responded to the program. Before, this school had a very low graduation rate; now attendance has increased from 43% to 93%. The kids really feel love by caring for the plants, and feel responsible for them. As a result, their view of where food comes from has changed, which is a very good thing since the majority of kids in this district have horrible diets.

Ritz, who began this journey by funding everything out of his own pocket, is determined to put plants in every classroom in New York City. He is a true believer that, if we teach children about nature, they will learn to nurture.

About Green Mom

Fredrica Syren, the author and founder of Green-Mom.com, was born in Sweden. Her mother was a classically trained chef who introduced her to many eclectic flavors and skills at a young age. Her mom’s passion for the outdoors and gardening planted the seed for her own love of nature and healthy eating. She received a degree in journalism and has worked as a print, Internet and broadcasting journalist for many years with big businesses within Europe and the United States. After her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she with pre-cancer, Fredrica changed her career to become a full time yoga teacher and activist. A longtime world traveler, foodie and career woman, she was exposed to many facets of life, but nothing inspired her more than becoming a mom. After her first-born, Fredrica began a food blog focusing on local, seasonal, organic & vegetarian dishes. Years of food blogging developed into the cookbook Yummy in My Tummy, Healthy Cooking for the Whole Family. Upon the arrival of her second child, Fredrica founded Green-Mom.com. Her vision was to establish a site providing insight about gardening, home and personal care, baby & child, and of course food & nutrition. Green-Mom.com hosts many talented writers shedding light on ways to incorporate eco-friendly and nutritious practices for busy families. She is an advocate for organic, local and sustainable businesses. Fredrica hopes to inspire social change through her lifestyle, passion and business. Fredrica lives with her husband James Harker-Syren and their three children in San Diego, CA.

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