Planting seeds of health and happiness
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Through the Edible Education Project, Dr. Kip Curtis addresses poverty, healthy eating and teaching children to grow food.

May 21st, 2014 / cat / 0 comments

For the past five years, I have been working with kids in schoolyard gardens that I have installed in schools in south St. Petersburg, Florida.  I started doing this because I saw that a lack of economic resources impacted kids in ways I just couldn’t stand to watch.

Reports in 2009 cited a 70% dropout rate for African American boys in my community – seven of ten, not getting through high school.  More recent reports have revealed that obesity, diabetes and infant death are also rampant.  These diet-related health issues are all preventable.  Eating right and eating healthy are harder for kids who don’t have resources.  Less healthy eating choices are less expensive, more convenient, and often taste good.

I saw poverty doing great harm and hurting kids in south St. Petersburg.  And I believe that kids don’t deserve to be hurt, whatever the income or education level of their parents.  So I decided to do something about it.

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I started building gardens in the schoolyards of the schools attended by the kids experiencing the worst impacts.  I recruited volunteers from nearby colleges to work in those gardens and teach the kids about healthy food (and to teach them science and math and language arts at the same time).

The experiment has been wildly successful.  The small idea has become a big project (http://peacepatch.org).  Kids have not only gained experience growing food that they could be proud of, they have gotten better at math and science because they learned it doing something they care about, growing a garden.

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Most importantly, they eat what they grow.  In some of the schools where we have worked, we have offered cooking classes allowing the kids to harvest fresh food and make yummy dishes.  In others, like this video shows, we encourage the kids to sample the food they have grown, which they always do willingly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrFyrhBa2Ms&feature=share&list=UUdvlS_ctZxQ5ZQV1Iotzcdw&index=1

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I am now taking these ideas wherever they are needed.  This month I formed a new organization, The Edible Education Project, Inc. (http://edibleeducationproject.com), because I believe every child deserves access to fresh healthy food and deserves to learn the necessary skills to integrate that food into their lives.  I am working to contribute to a healthy, literate, and well-educated population in every neighborhood and every background.

Kip Curtis, Ph.D.

 

BIO: 
Dr. Kip Curtis grew up on a sustainable farm in the 1970s.  His professional development brought him through the environmental movement, into a doctorate in environmental history, end eventually back into food systems.  For the past five years he has been the primary force behind a farm to school education effort in St. Petersburg, Florida (http://peacepatch.org).  He is now offering his vision to farm to school and farm to plate food system projects around the country.  (http://edibleeducationproject.com) Like me on Facebook: http://facebook.com/edibleeducationproject

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