How does one turn a cold, miserable rainy day in late October into one as bright and warm as a sunny day in June? Just visit a local elementary school where students and teachers and community volunteers are all so excited about the bountiful garden out back behind the school. A magical place where young minds learn about growing healthy foods, about earthworms and soil, about cover crops and harvesting, about composting and frost dates, and about how tasty that strange looking vegetable with the funny name is . . . the one they started to grow from seedlings last school year.
I had a chance to visit such a place October 19 when I helped Hopewell Elementary School in Hopewell, New Jersey celebrate Farm To School Month activities. I joined U. S. Representative Rush Holt in a visit to the school’s lush garden where we got to see the students excitedly taste edible flowers and learn about the importance of eating fresh and locally grown foods.
Representative Holt and I commended the school, local farmers, chefs, and other volunteers for creating the school garden and for having a vibrant farming education program at Hopewell Elementary. This was especially meaningful for Representative Holt who introduced the legislation that created the $50 million Farm to School grant program which provides funds over five years for Farm To School programs. Representative Holt also sponsored the resolution that became law designating October as National Farm To School Month. As a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor, he has been working to improve how food is sourced for the 32 million children who eat meals at school.
And as if cued by Mother Nature, volunteer farmers made a teaching point out of the rainy day. They said that while it may not be much fun for the adults to get their clothes all wet, rain is always is welcome at a garden. Like kids who need to eat healthy foods to grow up strong, their garden needs both rain and sunshine to produce a healthy harvest.