by Kimberly Willis Green
ATLANTA – In celebration of Earth Day on Friday, April 22, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) will serve chicken with pasta and green beans seasoned with district grown garden herbs in all APS cafeterias. The fresh rosemary and basil harvested to prepare these menu items were grown inside the Benjamin E. Mays High School aquaponics and hydroponics greenhouse system.
Mays High School is the only school in the district with a greenhouse that uses aquaponics and hydroponics to grow year-round herbs and vegetables. The Mays Greenhouse, operated by Ray Williams of Mirror Image Mentoring, was selected as the flagship program for the District Grown Gardens initiative and is funded by Sodexo-Jackmont Corporation. Students from the Mays High School Urban Agriculture Club, Williams, and Mays High School Advanced Placement Biology and Environmental Science instructor, Tamiko Gray, maintain the greenhouse and school garden. She uses the greenhouse as a living classroom and integrates gardening into her curriculum.
The District Grown Gardens initiative focuses on increasing student’s consumption of fruits and vegetables while making the connection between school garden produce and foods served in the cafeteria. A collaboration between the APS Nutrition Department, Captain Planet Foundation and Sodexo-Jackmont, the program is being piloted at select Beecher Hills Elementary, King Middle, Maynard Jackson High and Mays High. APS Student Wellness Ambassadors (SWAs) will host garden tours at Long Middle and hydroponic displays at Mays High School. Additionally, fresh harvest herbs and vegetables will be featured in cooking demonstrations at select schools.
Please click here to preview the APS District Grown Gardens Video.
What: APS Nutrition Department serves a district grown garden herb menu and cooking demonstrations at select pilot schools during Earth Day.
When: Friday, April 22, 2016
Where: 10:15 a.m. M.A. Jones Elementary – 1040 Fair St., S.W. 30314
10:30 a.m. Garden Hills Elementary – 285 Sheridan Dr., NE, 30305
10:45 a.m. Long Middle School – 3200 Latona Dr., SW, 30354
11:45 a.m. Maynard Jackson High School – 801 Glenwood Ave., SE, 30316
11:50 a.m. Mays High School – 3450 Benjamin E. Mays, Dr., SW, 30331
About Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 98 learning sites. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 87 schools, 17 charter schools and two citywide single-gender academies, where students are offered rigorous instructional programs that foster success in school and life. For more information, visit www.atlantapublicschools.us.
About the Captain Planet Foundation Partnership with APS
The Atlanta-based Captain Planet Foundation’s (www.captainplanetfoundation.org) Project Learning Garden program helps teachers substitute a hands-on garden lesson for a classroom lesson, while teaching the same required curriculum standard in math, science, social studies, health or language arts. The Foundation has expanding its Project Learning Garden program through the implementation of a 2015-2016 school year “Garden-to-Cafeteria” pilot in selected Atlanta Public Schools, including M.L. King Middle and Maynard Jackson High School. Each school will expand its existing gardens in order to grow and provide garden produce for its cafeteria. Sodexo-Jackmont, APS’ school food service vendor, helps fund the Garden-to-Cafeteria expansion of this project, as does Kaiser Permanente. CPF’s FoodCorps (www.foodcorps.org) service members assist schools with tasting events, lessons, and other garden-based activities.
About Mirror Image Mentoring
Mirror Image Mentoring is a longstanding partner at Mays whose mission is to grow youth through sustainable agriculture and community gardening. Williams, who has years of experience in agriculture and gardening, mentors students through his organization, using behavior modification principles, and provides employment opportunities after high school.