Bethlehem students learn to grow with new school garden

The American Heart Association Lehigh Valley board of directors recently teamed up with the Kellyn Foundation to install raised garden beds at Lincoln Elementary School in Bethlehem, PA.

As part of the Garden as a Classroom program, Kellyn facilitates the building of raised bed gardens and ongoing hands-on healthy lifestyle curriculum to provide educational concepts in a real-life setting. Nearly 475 students and 15 faculty members will benefit from the project at Lincoln Elementary.

In addition to building the raised bed gardens, the program engages each student for three consecutive years by expanding their awareness and enjoyment of fresh real food in third grade, understanding how to interpret nutritional labeling on packaged goods in fourth grade and how to make the healthiest choices when eating out in fifth grade.

“We are proud to bring these raised gardens to our local elementary school to help kids learn about growing their own food while also teaching them valuable life lessons. It was a perfect project to participate with an organization that shares our mission of education and empowerment toward a healthier lifestyle,” stated Sue Kovacs, member of the American Heart Association Lehigh Valley board of directors.

According the Association, many children do not consume enough fruits and vegetables daily. The Association suggests children should eat at least one fruit or vegetable at each meal, or 2 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables throughout the day, according to age.

“Research suggests that children who participate in gardening eat more fruits and vegetables,” said Eric Ruth, Co-Founder and CEO, the Kellyn Foundation. “Gardens at school help tie in science, ecology, math and health lessons in a real-life setting.  It is critical for today’s students to experience and enjoy fresh, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds to help decrease their risk of developing chronic diseases like hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease in the future. Healthy food is the best medicine.”

The Garden as a Classroom program at Lincoln Elementary School was one of the American Heart Association Lehigh Valley board’s community impact projects for 2020. Each year the board chooses different projects that improve the health and well-being in the community.

“This year, our members showed a real passion for improving healthy eating among youth in the Lehigh Valley,” said Abby Silfies, executive director for the American Heart Association Lehigh Valley. “The Garden as a Classroom program was the perfect hands-on project for our board to make a direct impact for the school and community.”

In addition to this project, the American Heart Association’s Teaching Gardens Network offers free gardening materials and resources, as well as grant opportunities, for schools and education facilities looking to connect students with gardens in their community.

To learn more and to register your school or community for the 2020-2021 school year, visit