Students at Miami elementary school grow the veggies they eat at lunch

MIAMI (WSVN) - Students at a South Florida school are learning lessons that go beyond the classroom by growing some of their own food.

Students at Riverside Elementary School in Miami are learning valuable lessons by tending to the school’s food forest.

The lead teacher of the garden program is Lelys Malespin. “They learn about not just things that you would typically learn in a textbook, in person, but also they have a sense of citizenship and sustainability,” said Malespin.

What the children grow in the garden makes its way to the school’s cafeteria. Cafeteria manager Joaquin Serpa works to get those fresh ingredients onto students’ plates.

“When they come to my kitchen with whatever they garden and they say ‘Hey Joaquin, why don’t you use this today in a salad?’ or while [I’m] cooking, lets say if they bring me rosemary, they say ‘Why don’t you put rosemary on the chicken?’ So I make them, you know, rosemary chicken,” said Serpa.

For the past decade, there has been a garden group program with nine garden beds in the school’s courtyard. In March, the food forrest came to fruition with the help of The Education Fund, a non-profit organization.

The Education Fund Program manager Debi LaBelle said, “The health foundation helps – they provide funding to us and then as a non-profit, we kind of disperse that out to the schools and, you know, provide support to staff and the workshops and the trainings.”

The kids have proved that growing their own source of food is not only educational and rewarding but healthy, as well. It’s another way to get students to eat their veggies.

Some of the vegetables grown are foods students would normally not eat.

“I tried it because we grew it,” said fifth-grader Emerson Rodriguez. “It was pretty good.”

“I just tried it and it wasn’t bad,” said another student when asked if he liked spinach. “It’s definitely not something I would like to eat that much, but it’s not bad.”

Serpa said he enjoys helping the kids out in the kitchen after seeing the hard work they put into their garden.

“They feel proud about it,” he said.

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