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Rye YMCA Teaches Schools How To Start A Garden

School gardens have become a popular way to educate children about growing their own food and eating healthy and representatives from the Rye YMCA are teaching schools how to get them started.

“Enabling children to touch and feel and create with food is an incredible experience,” said Erica Christ, Nutrition Services Manager at Greenwich Hospital and one of several panelists at a workshop promoting school gardens at Daniel Warren Elementary School on Tuesday.

Teachers and administrators came from throughout Westchester County to learn how to start gardens at their own schools and how to use them as an educational tool for their students. Helen Gates, Director of Marketing and Community Impact at Rye YMCA, explained that the workshop is part of a nationwide initiative to fight obesity.

“It started with the question, ‘How do we bring the idea of sound nutrition to kids, teachers and parents,’” Gates said.

The central idea is that children are more likely to eat healthy foods if they have a stake in producing them.

“If you put a carrot on a kid’s plate, they’ll be much more willing to eat if they grew it themselves,” Gates said.

Daniel Warren Elementary received part of a $10,000 grant from General Mills through the Rye YMCA to fund a pilot gardening program. Not every school will receive funding, though Gates hopes the funded gardens will create interest elsewhere.

Third grader Nathan Lesser, 9, was at Daniel Warren when the garden was first put in. There is a garden at his current school, F.E. Bellows Elementary, but he still likes the garden he helped start.

“It’s really beautiful and nice,” said Nathan, who loves to eat broccoli, but doesn’t care for fruit. “I’m really speechless about it.”

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