New York City schools are going green — or at least growing green. As part of a new program, Grow to Learn: The Citywide School Gardens Initiative, 29 NYC public schools will receive $2000 in grants from GrowNYC and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC, in an effort to promote the creation of sustainable school gardens. About a third of the city’s schools currently have gardens, but the GrowNYC program hopes to plant at least one garden at every school in the city. The new program provides access to all the support and information needed in order to maintain a successful garden. Help includes everything from how-to guides, grants, gardening supplies, and access to gardening experts.
Research has found that, despite a variety of parks available throughout the city, children nowadays are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature, especially those living in an urban environment. GrowNYC believes that this is detrimental not only to children and their health, but that it will also impact the future of the environment as well. The program provides a way to increase environmental awareness among children, while also helping kids’ mental and physical growth.
GrowNYC has found that not only is there a link between improved tests scores and school gardens, but the gardens also promote more physical activity, better eating habits, a stronger connection to the environment, and a change in attitude towards learning.
Parents seems to agree. ”We are thrilled to get the grant,” Margaret Peeler, PTA president at the Muscota School in Inwood, told DNAinfo. She believes that funding will also benefit parents, who will be invited participate in various gardening activities such as a planned gardening day in May.
Some of the 29 schools that are receiving grants are P.S 43 Jonas Bronck in the Bronx, P.S 31, 45, 65, and the Miraj Islamic School in Staten Island, and P.S. 29 in Brooklyn. In Manhattan, LaGuardia Arts High school, and P.S. 37 are among some of the schools in all the five boroughs which are participating.
Yet NYC has a lot of work to do. Out of a public education system of 1,600 schools and 1.1 million students, there are only about 300 school gardens. However, judging by the program’s huge success, GrowNYC is confident that they will reach their goal.
Images © Grow To Learn