Ridgewood elementary school students get urban ‘Learning Garden’ to foster healthy eating habits

Garden 3
Photos courtesy P.S. 68

If life is a garden, then these Ridgewood students can dig it.

The kids at P.S. 68, the Cambridge Family School, are getting a hands-on learning experience with creating, growing and maintaining their very own urban garden, thanks to a grant from Lowe’s.

Administrators at the elementary school located at 59-09 St Felix Ave. applied for the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant program, which is funded by the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation that has supported thousands of grassroots community and school projects in parts of the country where the hardware store does business.

In spring 2015, P.S. 68 was awarded with a $2,550 grant to create their urban “Learning Garden” where students would help plant tomatoes, mint, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, peppers, strawberries, lavender, parsley, basil and other fruits and vegetables.

“Our school is located within a community that is experiencing high numbers of obesity and we … welcome the opportunity to educate our parents and students about the benefits of eating healthy,” said Anne-Marie Scalfaro, principal at P.S. 68.

Since that time, the entire school — pre-K through fifth grade — has participated in planting and maintaining the garden, where they are learning about how growing a garden and eating healthy can lead to healthy living.

“During the past few years we have thrown around the idea of planting an ‘urban’ garden. We envision utilizing our asphalt ‘garden’ area to construct four 5-by-3 raised garden beds to grow vegetables like tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, herbs, etcetera,” Scalfaro said. “By growing vegetables, we hope that our children would better understand where their food comes from, and we [will] be able to encourage them to gain more positive food attitudes. Our school promotes healthy living and we feel the children [will] be able to learn more about and maintaining a school vegetable garden. We [ask] our faculty, PTA and parents to volunteer in building, maintaining and harvesting the vegetables. This [helps] us create a sense of community and instill a sense of pride in our accomplishments.”