Students at Penn Elementary School in north Tulsa returned the textbooks to the shelves in favor of learning about gardening and healthy eating in their new community garden Friday.
The garden, provided by the American Heart Association and TRC, is spearheaded by first-year teacher Brittany Wiltshire, who teaches second grade.
“We don’t have adequate grocery stores, produce for our families and access to healthy lifestyle choices,” she explained.
According to the USDA, Penn Elementary School falls in the green zone on the organization's food desert map . It indicates that this area of north Tulsa, like so many others, has a significant population that cannot easily access a supermarket or large grocery store.
To help combat this problem, Penn, AHA and TRC teamed up to provide this garden for students, their families and the community as a whole.
“The goal of the garden is to first educate students, educate family members about healthy eating, about healthy choices and then give them the resources to make those choices themselves,” Wiltshire explained.
Each class will have a weekly lesson plan through the end of the year to supplement the process.
Among the students tending to the garden on its first day was sixth grader Adrion Landrum, who believes the garden will make a positive difference in his neighborhood.
“Some people don’t really get to eat healthy. Like she said, one out of three people have obesity or like they eat unhealthy. So I think the vegetables will be a good opportunity for people to like get to eat healthy,” Landrum said.
According to the American Heart Association, one in three children is obese or overweight, which can lead to heart problems later in life.
This garden hopes to diminish the odds and provide produce like onions, eggplant, strawberries and lettuce year-round.
“We’re hopefully next year starting a garden club. So getting kids up here, getting families maybe once every other week, twice a month. Something like that just to really educate them further,” Wiltshire said.
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