With guidance from Susan Glinski of ArcelorMittal (right), Ben Sorrells, 9, (left) plants a banana pepper with fellow fourth-graders during the planting of a Teaching Garden at South Haven Elementary School in South Haven, Ind. Tuesday April 30, 2013. The garden, sponsored by the American Heart Association and ArcelorMittal, encourages students to grow and eat healthy foods. | Stephanie Dowell~Post-Tribune
Updated: June 15, 2013 6:04AM
Victoria Espinoza likes lots of vegetables.
“I like carrots, cucumbers, broccoli and tomatoes,” Victoria, 8, a second-grader at South Haven Elementary School, said while she and her classmates planted cucumbers in a raised bed.
About 400 students in kindergarten through fifth-grade helped plant a teaching garden at their school April 30. With sunny skies and unseasonable warmth, they planted a vast array of veggies, which also included radishes, a variety of tomatoes and peppers, celery, broccoli, green beans and pickles. An herb garden also is in the works for the school’s courtyard.
The American Heart Association Teaching Garden is in its second year, and is done in partnership with ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor plant. The program is meant to foster healthy eating and living habits in children that they will carry with them through the rest of their lives.
“Make sure what you learn today you take home and share with your families,” Diane Kemp, the heart association’s executive director for Northwest Indiana, told the students before they started planting.
The children planted the vegetables in six raised beds set up outside the school. Principal David Lesich said he and the teachers would care for the garden over the summer. The vegetables will be harvested when the students return to school.
“If it all comes in, we should have a great harvest in the fall,” he said, adding a lot of students don’t have gardens at home.
Teaching gardens are part of the heart association’s My Heart, My Life healthy behavior program, a comprehensive program which also includes fitness and wellness to empower Americans to lead healthier lives.
Larry Fabina, continuous improvement manager at the Burns Harbor plant, asked for a show of hands for kids who liked — or didn’t like — vegetables, and confessed he didn’t like vegetables when he was their age.
When vegetables are prepared properly, though, Fabina said the children would like them.
“I want you to enjoy and remember this for a long time and when you’re older, eat vegetables and have a healthy heart,” he said.
That’s likely for Victoria, who was looking forward to sampling the locally grown produce.
“I feel really happy that we’re going to have vegetables that we grew and get them from our own garden,” she said.