This project was inspired by The Green Bronx Machine (GBM) developed by Stephen Ritz in The Bronx borough of New York. This program transformed an entire school district and community by engaging students in vertical, aeroponic gardening. Stephen Ritz employed troubled high school students to help grow food, and as a result he improved their classroom engagement, attendance, and attitude towards education, the district also noticed a 45% school-wide increase in passing rates on NYS Science exams. They have developed an extensive curriculum, which we have purchased to share with schools locally.
GBM has served as our inspiration for the Sow it Forward: Vertical Garden project, as we hope to impact students all across Arizona, not only nutritionally but also developmentally. It is our belief that the food-growing experiences, and interactive classroom gardening activities help to inspire children to appreciate healthy foods, and grow to make better food choices. It also allows students with limited food access a convenient source of fresh, healthy produce. Nutrition is vital for proper childhood development, which is why inspiring students to be curious and excited about healthy food is critical for the success of their future.
The Arizona Sustainability Alliance founded the Sow It Forward: Vertical Garden Program to help mitigate the high rates of childhood hunger and food inequality experienced by Arizona youth. It is the belief of AZSA that every child should have the opportunity to learn how to grow their own food, and have access to fresh, healthy produce, especially while at school. This program has been implemented at nine schools throughout the Phoenix Metro region. The gardens have been installed in classrooms of students K-8, and have been successful installed in a variety of classrooms K-8.
How to get involved
Initial research, assembly and planting will take 4-5 hours. You can then build in the ongoing maintenance and lesson plans to your weekly curriculum in the classroom,
Do you want to give kids in your class the experience of growing their own food? Here you'll find all you need to do that. You can unlock funding to purchase your vertical garden, download lesson plans and resources and get the support of a mentor who has helped schools across Arizona start this project.