Colonial School Garden: Planting the seeds of savings
More than 60 members of the Colonial School District (CSD) community gathered on May 15 to break ground for the District’s school garden. The garden, located on the Angus Tract property of Erdenheim Farm in Whitemarsh Township, is a cooperative venture between CSD and Whole Foods Markets. The idea for the garden began with Plymouth Whitemarsh High School junior Ross Levin who had been suggesting ideas for the school to become more environmentally friendly.
“The garden will bring healthy, local, sustainable food into the cafeterias,” Levin said. “It will reduce the school’s dependence on highly processed, industrially grown food produced by large corporations. Instead of eating food made with tons of fossil fuels in ways that damage the planet, we’ll be providing food that’s produced in a way that helps the community and the environment.”
Levin also hopes the garden will bring people together, which was evident from the turnout on May 15.
“The sense of student pride and the community involvement on planting day was just amazing to witness,” said CSD Director of Food Services Lori McCoy, RD, SNS. “There were students, staff members, School Board members, parents and community members who all put on their boots, rolled up their sleeves and made this garden come to life.”
The volunteers planted tomatoes, yellow bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, poblano peppers, rosemary, chives, dill, basil and sage. Other produce to be planted this spring includes green beans, cucumbers and squash. Staff members and volunteers will tend to the garden over the summer while school is not in session.
Future plans for the garden include adding portable structures or “hoop houses” that will enable the growing of produce all-year round. Maria Bellino, the District’s Science Curriculum Supervisor, is also working to incorporate aspects of the school garden into the curriculum.
“Growing our own organic produce is an incredible opportunity that we have for providing better quality food and better nutrition for our students,” Mrs. McCoy said. “In addition, the garden will have a future impact on our budget, the environment and classroom learning.”
Mrs. McCoy noted that the Food Services Department currently spends about $4,500 per month on fresh produce. The school garden is expected to reduce that cost in the coming years.