Green Central grows an edible wall

Edible Wall.1

The American Heart Association (AHA) installed its first mobile edible wall in the country at Green Central Community School. Mobile edible walls are freestanding A-frame gardens that can grow a large amount of fresh, organic produce. First-grade students planted tomatoes, tomatillos, green beans, pumpkins and herbs in the indoor vertical garden at a ground breaking on March 7.

Candida Gonzalez, coordinator for Green Central Community Education, says the kids’ garden was the product of three first-grade classes — “a veritcal teaching garden.” She says it is the first of its kind in a U.S. elementary school. It is part of the health and science curriculum, and will also be used as an after school project, as well as being a part of a summer program, she says.

“They are learning how to prepare food,” says Gonzalez of the kids, who adds that they used ingredients from the garden and recently made pizza. “They are starting to get used to picking [organic produce] from the garden, [how to] prepare it and eat it.” Gonzalez, a retired U-M master gardener, says “They have loved every single bit of it. They say it tasted like summer.”

While the AHA has planted outdoor gardens at schools in warmer climates, the organization has not installed a garden in any northern states. The indoor garden will allow for a longer growing season during the school year, and it is expected to harvest three crops.

“We will build a teaching garden and incorporate it into the curriculum for first-grade students,” Gonzalez said. “It will be part of the health and safety curriculum, but [also] will include math with measurements and graphing, as well as literacy because we will read and talk about growing living systems.”

The school obtained the mobile edible wall through the AHA’s Teaching Garden Program, which was launched nationally two years ago to combat childhood obesity. Currently less than one percent of children have ideal cardiovascular health, and less than one in 10 students eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables daily, with French fries making up one-fourth of their vegetable intake.

The Teaching Garden Program is sponsored locally by HealthPartners.

This information was provided by Minneapolis Public Schools.