Produce grown in Earth Day Connect classroom gardens. Photo credit: Earth Day Connect|1/4 Produce grown in Earth Day Connect classroom gardens. Photo credit: Earth Day Connect|
Produce grown in Earth Day Connect classroom gardens. Photo credit: Earth Day Connect|2/4 Produce grown in Earth Day Connect classroom gardens. Photo credit: Earth Day Connect|
Produce grown in Earth Day Connect classroom gardens. Photo credit: Earth Day Connect|3/4 Produce grown in Earth Day Connect classroom gardens. Photo credit: Earth Day Connect|
Hundreds of classrooms across New York City already have indoor container gardens that allow students to grow food right where they learn.
But Earth Day New York wants to kick it up a notch.
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The nonprofit, as part of its 25th anniversary year, is fundraising for a “Earth Day/ Every Day Food Toolkit” that will have students leading the charge of mapping out sustainable food resources in their neighborhood, said John Oppermann, managing director.
"Hands on projects are one of the best ways to educate kids and get them excited about a topic," Oppermann said. "Reading about things is not exactly the same as doing it, gardens are really engaging."
Once funded, the program will provide students information on healthy foods, then give them lessons on how to map food resources in their community, such as farmers markets, and how to share that information with their parents, friends and neighbors.
“There’s a lot that kids will be able to take away from this,” said Oppermann, adding one of the important lessons is that sustainable food isn’t an abstract concept, but a part of everyday living.
The city-wide map has the potential to help all New Yorkers gain access to fresh food, even if they aren’t living in a food desert.
“Just because healthy foods are available don’t mean people are taking advantage of it,” Oppermann said.
The toolkit’s target audience is high school students, but the program can be adjusted for older and younger learners, Oppermann said. He said another main goal in the program is to help students recognize potential career paths.
Earth Day has raised about $10,000 so far, and is hoping to raise $25,000 by Nov. 3. The program will be piloted through the winter and spring semester, Oppermann said, and hopefully getting to the point where a team of educators are out in the schools everyday working with children on the toolkits.
For more information on Earth Day New York’s toolkit campaign, visithttps://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-make-students-community-food-advocates.