U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, joined students to launch a new school garden collaborative at Nichols School in Detroit. The new garden is part of an innovative new education program at Detroit Public Schools called the Garden Collaborative, which will create gardens at 46 schools throughout the district. The new garden will provide Nichols’ students with a hands-on agricultural learning experience where they can plant a variety of vegetables that will be used in the cafeteria for school lunches. Each of the gardening locations will feature raised beds, compost bins, rainwater collection equipment, gravel walkways and a Farm to School Learning Center.
During the event, Senator Stabenow toured the garden and planted vegetables with students. She also helped announce the winners of the Golden Shovel Awards to honor local organizations for supporting the Garden Collaborative. The winners were the Eastern Market Corporation, Home Depot, and the Henry Ford Hospital West Bloomfield Greenhouse. Senator Stabenow has been a champion for Eastern Market, securing critical funding to expand the Market and working closely with community leaders to establish a new community kitchen at Shed 5 and improved street signage.
Chairwoman Stabenow said: “All children should have access to healthy fruits and vegetables during the school day. Everyone is a winner with this innovative Garden Collaborative, as cafeterias gain a supply of fresh produce and students have an opportunity to learn about farming by doing it themselves. I will continue leading the effort to increase access to Michigan-grown food choices for children and families, which will support our local farmers and help boost Michigan agriculture.”
Betti Wiggins, Executive Director in the Office of School Nutrition, thanking Sen. Stabenow for her visit and support said: “We are so proud of our efforts to improve the health and well-being of our students by offering every child a free nutritious breakfast and lunch daily so that they can fully concentrate on academics and not on hunger. Our expanding garden program, where students make connections through our science curriculum and their lives through their school gardens, provides an important bridge between learning and health for our students, while also bringing fresh garden foods right to their cafeteria tables.”
For years, Senator Stabenow has led the effort to increase access to healthy, Michigan-grown food choices for children in schools. Her 2013 Farm Bill continues the successful Fruits and Vegetables Snack Program to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to children throughout the school day. In addition, the Farm Bill expands support for community gardens, farmers’ markets and local food hubs across our state and throughout the country to help family farmers sell more local foods, boosting Michigan agriculture, our state’s second largest industry. The bill also strengthens research, marketing, disaster relief and other support for Michigan fruit and vegetable growers.
While strengthening key initiatives to help farmers and agriculture businesses create jobs, the Farm Bill also cuts unnecessary programs and streamlines existing ones to reduce the deficit by $24 billion.