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Urban Farm Schools

Changing the Nutrition Education Landscape

A healthy, balanced diet is the best preventive medicine. The two leading causes of death in the United States, heart disease and cancer, can be linked to poor nutrition and obesity. The percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since the 1970s. Our children require a more nuanced introduction to nutrition than the ubiquitous food plate can provide.

Urban farm schools are at the forefront of a new wave of innovative approaches when it comes to learning about what’s on your plate (and what shouldn’t be!). Urban farm schools offer hands-on, real life context for traditional subjects through an agricultural lens and give farm to table experiences in nutrition to students as young as 3 years old.

Students are immersed in the science of growing food and learn how to create balanced meals from the vegetables, legumes, fruits and herbs that they cultivate on their farm. A lesson on agriculture and nutrition might explain how a diet that relies upon corn and wheat as year round staples will not be as healthy as one that rotates vegetables and grains as they come into season: foods like barley, oats, broccoli, kale, carrots, and lettuce in the cool season and beans, peppers, corn and squash in the warm season. Students learn that what they put into their bodies affects their output and are encouraged to make healthy choices at school and at home.

Lunch preparation becomes a learning-by-doing experience as students discuss the best ways to prepare and cook food to retain the highest amounts of nutritional value. At the core of the urban farm school philosophy is the belief that children must create a meaningful connection with the environment and their unique ecosystem – their community – in order to make informed choices about their own health and wellness.

Knowledge is power, indeed.

Ayana Verdi is the founder of the not-for-profit, urban farm school, the Verdi EcoSchool. The Verdi EcoSchool's community campus is located in the Eau Gallie Arts District of Melbourne, at 1851Highland Avenue. For more information, visit VerdiEcoSchool.org, call 321-298-2501, or email: info@verdiecoschool.org

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