Nichols Garden Collaborative

On Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Nichols Garden Collaborative will break ground at its new school garden at 3000 Burns Street, in Detroit. Students at Nichols School along with their parents and members from the surrounding community, will fill six 4 x 8 foot raised beds with soil and compost, in order to plant vegetables that will be used in the cafeteria for school lunches.

The vegetables will include: squash, cucumbers, beans, radishes and a variety of greens such as collards, spinach, kale and mustard. The innovative program is part of the Detroit School Garden Collaborative and the A Farm 2 School Initiative inspiring access to Healthy Foods.

The Nichols Garden Collaborative was spearheaded by Ms. Barbara Lothery and Mr. Richard Genthner who both teach at Nichols School. They see many possibilities of the garden involving several curriculum aspects to inspire the students to apply science, math, English and art skills in creating and maintaining the garden. Through the gardens, students also will gain a greater understanding of the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables, become ambassadors of healthy foods and will be encouraged to share the information with their families.

Community volunteers include those involved with LSCO (Local School Community Organizations), members of the Indian Village Men’s Garden Club, the Mack Avenue Church and the Greater Christ Baptist Church. The collaborative project extended to students at the Charles R. Drew Transition Center who built the raised beds made of recycled timbers.

Partners of the program, called the Detroit School Garden Collaborative, include The Greening of Detroit, the Eastern Market Corporation, which will help create a new DPS Farmer’s Market; the United Way of Southeast Michigan, and The Detroit Medical Center, which will offer Health and Wellness education. The funding for the initiative will be paid for through the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which authorizes funding for federal school meals and child nutrition programs and increases access to healthy food for low-income children. The Act is designed to improve nutrition and reduce childhood obesity and allows child nutrition funds to be utilized to establish and maintain school-based gardens.

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