Newark students eat healthier by growing garden

April 4, 2013 2:32:08 PM PDT
Healthy eating habits start at a young age.

One local school is teaching students the importance of eating better by growing their own food.

On the rooftop of an old factory building in the heart of Newark, the gardening season is beginning.

The students of St. Philip's Academy are its caretakers.

It's just the beginning of the lessons in food and healthy eating the kids are being taught.

"We want them to make healthy choices through their lives," said Frank Mentesana, St. Philip's Academy.

Part of that is showing healthy food as fun and flavorful.

The tasting class tries raw cucumbers, with kosher salt, organic sugar, or fresh lemon as seasonings.

"I didn't like cucumbers plain, but put salt and sugar on them, they taste good," said Dominique Smith-Colt, 11 years old.

Dominique even drank a smoothie made with beets.

"I was like, wow, never knew beets could taste so good," Smith-Colt said.

It's not just taste testing, they also grow lunch.

They also have an indoor aero-ponic garden.

The lettuce they're harvesting goes straight to the kitchen and used in the salad bar.

These are not just class projects, or making sure they get a healthy lunch at school.

They are lifestyle changes taking root beyond the classroom.

"We now eat healthier at home, and we have a garden," said Eve Millien, St. Philip's student.

"I make healthier choices, instead of just cake, salad," said Natalie Martin, St. Philip's student.

Everything there is healthy and organic. The kids are taught about solar power, composting, sustainability, and nutrition.

"So the kids learn very young this new culture that we forgot and they own it," Mentesana said.

St. Philip's is now a model for other schools that are looking to adopt its healthy, earth loving habits.