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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Students work on food security
Local schools embrace produce initiatives
Published Wednesday, March 27, 2013
by Herbert L. White


Charlotte-Mecklenburg public school students are getting involved in the drive for healthy food supplies.

Burpee Home Gardens' "Grow Anywhere Tour" launched at Hidden Valley Elementary School on March 13.

Hawk Ridge Elementary students earned a grant for a campus vegetable garden from FirstFruits Marketing, growers of the Opal apple, as part of the “Youth Make a Difference” Initiative for charities led by young people.

Opal, a Washington-grown apple that funded the expansion of Katie’s Krops gardens across the country in 2012, is available nationally. The new variety was introduced in 2010, and proved popular with its bright yellow color with hints of orange, distinctively crunchy texture, and sweet, tangy flavor. 

FirstFruits is raising funds for Katie’s Krops as well as other youth-led initiatives that address issues in food security, nutrition, agriculture, food politics or food education. Non-profit organizations and school-based entities can apply for funding, totaling approximately $50,000 through until March 31.

“Many children experience hunger, malnutrition or obesity, but very few understand where their food is sourced or how it is grown,” said Suzanne Broetje, executive director, Vista Hermosa Foundation, Broetje Orchards. “With the Youth Make a Difference campaign, we hope to inspire the next generation to make a real difference in their communities on issues like hunger and healthy eating, the politics of food distribution, and the importance of community service.”

Hidden Valley Elementary School students and staff and neighbors welcomed the Burpee Home Gardens “Grow Anywhere Tour” on March 13. Kicking off its nationwide tour in Charlotte, Burpee Home Gardens delivered 450 tomato, pepper, zucchini and cucumber plants and 1,300 pounds of produce to Charlotte residents to help raise awareness of urban areas with limited access to fresh produce.

Students at Hawk Ridge Elementary School earned a grant from FirstFruits Marketing to build a campus vegetable garden as part of the "Youth Make A Difference" initiative.

Experts from Burpee Home Gardens demonstrated proper planting techniques and taught more than 500 students and community members the essentials of caring for their vegetable plants. To highlight the topic of urban and small space gardening, the experts showed how to grow vegetables in nontraditional places, like balconies, in containers and scrap objects.

“By digging in and helping the Charlotte community explore the basics of gardening, we’re demonstrating that you don’t need an acre of land or the expertise of a master gardener to grow your own vegetables,” said Scott Mozingo, product manager at Burpee Home Gardens. “All you really need is a container with soil, access to water and a sunny location, and you can grow anywhere.”

Hidden Valley Elementary was selected as a national stop along the “Grow Anywhere Tour” route through a Facebook voting competition earlier this year during which more than 1.25 million votes were cast. For hosting the tour, Hidden Valley Elementary School also received 50 vegetable plants to help create a school garden.

The “Grow Anywhere Tour” will travel 10,000 miles from March to May to deliver 13,000 vegetable plants, 30,000 pounds of produce, gardening information and support to show the country how easy it is to grow healthy food anywhere.

To follow the progress of the “Grow Anywhere Tour” as it circles the country this spring, connect with Burpee Gardens on Facebook.
FirstFruits will evaluate all 2013 Youth Make a Difference applicants against a stringent set of criteria before posting finalists at opalapples.com. Beginning on April 29, the company will invite consumers to visit the website and vote for their favorite initiatives. In July, FirstFruits plans to award funding to a minimum of three youth-led charities based on consumer votes and consistency with criteria.

Nomination guidelines, funding details and criteria are available online.



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