This summer, children at Detroit Merit Charter Academy are eating the crops they sowed in the spring, thanks to a Teaching Garden sponsored by Health Alliance Plan (HAP) and the American Heart Association (AHA). Students planted mint, cilantro, spearmint, dill, basil, lettuce, collard greens and other fruits and vegetables. Now they are enjoying the opportunity to cook with the same foods they planted months ago with HAP’s Ready, Set Cook! Program, a hands-on cooking and lifestyle program for children ages 8-14 that focuses on addressing childhood obesity. This program teaches children to cook and prepare healthy, simple meals and empowers children to make healthier food choices on a daily basis, which ties into the goals of the AHA Teaching Garden Program.
The AHA Teaching Garden program is a national school-based program to help children become healthy and also help combat childhood obesity specifically in elementary school-aged children. It is also designed to provide hands-on learning experiences with the planting and growing process. The teaching gardens are one of the AHA’s many ways of meeting their goal to improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% by the year 2020.
Detroit Merit Charter Academy is the second school in Michigan to participate in the AHA Teaching Garden program. The students will be maintaining the garden year-round; they will use their fruits and vegetables in recipes for healthy meals including soups, salads, salsas, and other foods available at the school.