Out of the 113 public schools in Lancaster County, more than one third have created and maintain some type of vegetable garden. In conjunction with Lighten Up Lancaster, Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine is working with students now to plan their spring gardens. Students will be able to harvest early plantings of onions and lettuce before the end of the school year.
The innovative Community Garden Project brings together community partners to improve access to healthy food and improved nutrition. Gardens -- particularly school gardens -- are unique interventions that help develop healthy behaviors in students as well as their families. In addition to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, gardens also teach and reinforce a range of behaviors, including responsibility, leadership, environmental awareness and concerns, scientific process, problem solving, confidence and self-esteem.
Mom and her sons actively tend the gardens at Hamilton Elementary School.
LG Heath/Penn Medicine actively involves students, teachers, parents and community members in this initiative and creates a greater awareness of where many different foods come from. Studies have shown that if you grow food yourself, you are more likely to integrate a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet on a regular basis. Healthy recipes and a gardening toolkit are just two of the many resources offered by the program.
LG Health/Penn Medicine works in close collaboration with local community partners, including Penn State Master Gardeners, Lancaster County Conservancy, Lancaster County Parks, and the Penn State Extension.
If you would like to start a school garden or become a member of Lighten Up Lancaster, contact Sue Lackmann at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-544-3284 or Brenda Buescher at email@example.com or 717-544-3865.