Bella Perretta, Canton Central School Green Team member

Canton Central School District Grows Healthy Eaters

School garden partnership continues for second season

Canton, NY May 15, 2019– Eat Smart New York (ESNY) is supporting the Canton CSD school garden and other champion gardens across the North Country for a second year in an effort to increase access to fresh produce among low-income individuals.

The Green Team at Canton Middle School not only knows where their food comes from, they know how to grow it. Under the leadership of middle school teacher Megan Smith, for the past five years, students have been growing food for cooking workshops, classroom activities, the school cafeteria, and even the local Junior Iron Chef Competition.They have several different garden designs including an indoor grow tower, indoor grow trays, and an outdoor garden with nine raised beds.This allows the students to be involved in all aspects of growing and harvesting throughout the school year – one of the biggest challenges for school gardens.The students take great pride in their plants.Indoors, student names are label the plants they have adopted.In the outdoor garden, classes can sign up to care for individual beds.Altogether, approximately 200 students are involved in growing and caring for the school gardens and the entire school benefits from the harvest on the lunch line.Last year the garden produced enough baby bell peppers to hold a tasting in the school cafeteria. Lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers grown by students have all been featured on the lunch line in the school cafeteria.

In 2018 ESNY choose school and community gardens as one of its environmental health interventions to address barriers to accessing fresh, affordable local produce and to encourage SNAP-eligible recipients to eat more fruits and vegetables.The project covered the North Country region with garden sites in Jefferson, Lewis, Clinton, St. Lawrence, and Oneida Counties.The Canton site was a perfect fit.In the fall, ESNY Educator Megan Snow presented “Serving up MyPlate” to reinforce the importance of eating fruits and vegetables and wowed the students with a food demo of Zucchini Salad.ESNY also connected the school garden to CCE St. Lawrence County Master Gardener Paul Hetzler, who came and worked with the students. Says Smith, "The partnership with ESNY has enabled us to provide students with fun, engaging, real-life skills and experiences that build their confidence and competence. We are fostering a connection with the natural world and the food they eat; promoting healthy lifestyle choices. The students seem engaged, inspired, and excited about the food they grow!"

The garden is preparing for another fruitful growing season in partnership with ESNY.Some new materials have been purchased and plans are in place to provide more nutrition education workshops for students.Seed starts are germinating in one of the indoor grow tray systems and as soon as the weather cooperates students will begin prepping beds and pathways to begin planting.

Bella Perretta, Canton Central School Green Team member

Bella Perretta, Canton Central School Green Team member


Cassondra Caswell
Health and Nutrition Team Leader, SNAP-Ed Program Manager
315-379-9192 x235

Last updated July 26, 2019