Growing Gardens

WSVN — A year round school program is really taking root. Kids are growing their own garden and bringing their bounty home to the dinner table. 7’s Lynn Martinez shows us in today’s Parent to Parent.

Professional Chef Debi Labelle: “Now we talked about what we want to pick for our salad today, right?”

These students at WJ Bryan Elementary School are giving new meaning to picking their next meal.

Debi Labelle: “Can you grab the middle container on the butterfly table?”

They’re in a garden they planted cutting herbs and gathering greens for a meal they are about to make.

Debi Labelle: “It’s all interconnected where you have to grow it to eat it.”

Debi Labelle is a chef and a mom. So, when a group called The Education Fund asked her to help grow gardens in Miami-Dade Public Schools, she couldn’t say no.

Debi Labelle: “These kids they go out and they work in the garden and they grow this and they’re so excited when they see these plants growing.”

After picking what they want, students head to the kitchen to make a nutrition-packed salad.

Debi Labelle: “The salad is going to be called the summer panzanella salad. It’s just a fancy way of saying a crouton salad.”

The kids prepare and add all of the fresh ingredients, from the chopped garlic, parmesan cheese and olive oil to the different lettuce leaves and fresh tomatoes they just harvested. A final toss and then it’s time to sit down and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Debi Labelle: “Packed with flavor, packed with nutrients, it doesn’t get much more fresh than picking it and five minutes later eating it.”

And because they grew the food and made it themselves, the kids love to eat it.

Student: “It was good. I had seconds.”

Student: “The garden is fun, you get your hands dirty.”

One of the best parts about this program is the Food Forest. Students get to take a bag of fresh produce from the garden home with them to share with their family.

Nutrition & Wellness Coordinator Audra Wright: “Those health messages, they are translated to tie the family together.”

Lynn Martinez: Citibank joined in to help expand the program, which continues through summer school. To find out about another new program possibly coming to your child’s school cafeteria in the fall, click on Online Extra.