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The Teaching Garden

Courtesy of the Accelerated School

Dr. Seuss’ timeless story, The Lorax, reinforces what we as moms instinctively know – when kids plant the seeds and nurture and harvest the plants, they learn the value of good eating habits and appreciate the environment. 

On Teaching Garden planting days, I often ask kids to define the “environment.”  The typical answer is to describe mountains… oceans...or other landscapes out beyond their reach.    

I then draw an invisible circle around my body and say, “the environment starts here.”  To kids living in inner cities where trees and plants are scarce, personalizing the environment helps hit home that message  it matters how you fuel your body, and good health starts by caring.   

That’s what the Teaching Gardens program is all about. We’ve designed it to provide hands-on learning experience rooted in offering nutritional choices.

Students have fun planting seeds, nurturing growing plants, harvesting the food, and ultimately understanding the connection between the environment and their health.

Thanks to a deep-rooted commitment from our friends at The California Endowment, along with support from Parenting magazine, we showcased a Teaching Garden at the worldwide premiere of Universal Pictures’ Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, This exposure is helping us get the word out about the value of healthy eating to lots of kids and their families. 

Last week, we transported that very special garden to The Accelerated Charter Elementary Schools in South Los Angeles. We danced a little, talked about healthy bodies, planted some seeds, and the kids even got a surprise visit from the Lorax himself. It was so much fun.  

I love that Teaching Gardens are sprouting up everywhere. In just one year after were adopted by the American Heart Association, there are more 100 Teaching Gardens in the ground and more are being planted every week.  

This amazing growth reminds me of something The Lorax has said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It's not."

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Kelly Chapman Meyer is a passionate environmental activist. She is a board member of Heal the Bay and worked to help pass the Environmental Education Initiative which provides environmental education for all children in the state of California, K – 12. Kelly is currently focused on the launch and expansion of the Teaching Garden into 1,000 schools within the next two years. With the goal of solving childhood obesity, this program focuses on integrating better nutrition habits and fitness into schools across the nation.