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Development News

Madison Square school has state’s only rooftop garden in public school system

By: Deborah Johnson Wood

The ‘green’ roof at Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy is unlike any other public school in Michigan—240 square feet of it is dedicated to growing organic vegetables planted, maintained, harvested, and consumed by fourth and fifth graders. Mixed Greens, a non-profit children’s vegetable gardening organization, is in its second year of teaching about 25 of the school’s students how to grow and prepare the veggies.

“Our aim is to connect kids back to food and get them to understand where food comes from; it grows in the ground, it doesn’t come in a can,” said Emily Martin, marketing development coordinator. “If they’re growing their own food they’ll be a lot more willing to eat fruits and vegetables.”

As part of a partnership program with Campfire USA, the after school gardening program first planted the garden with salad greens and herbs last August. In September, students celebrated with a salad party of tossed greens topped with ranch dressing they made themselves.

This year, students will meet throughout the summer to care for their garden. The curriculum includes: learning about worms, composting with worm castings, maintaining pollinator gardens grown in large barrels near the garden, and cooking and consuming what they’ve grown.

The vegetables are traditional stand-bys like tomatoes and carrots as well as more unusual plants like Long Standing Batavian Lettuce and Traditional Huazontle Red Aztec Spinach.

This year, Mixed Greens will work with 300 students from ten schools in the Grand Rapids and Wyoming public school systems.

Source: Emily Martin, Mixed Greens

Photography courtesy of Mixed Greens
Deborah Johnson Wood is Development News Editor for Rapid Growth. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com.

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