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Students Learn to Grow Own Food at ‘Veggie U’

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Elementary school students from around the country are getting their green thumbs thanks to a unique program started right here in Ohio.

Third graders at Willow elementary school in Cleveland are learning how to build classroom gardens thanks to the Veggie U program.

"The students are learning about where their food comes from, how vegetables grow and also the nutritional benefit about eating vegetables -- that vegetables come from the ground and not necessarily from cans or baggies at the grocery store,” said Lynne Eirons, education manager of Veggie U.

For the past 10 years, the Veggie U program has sent classroom garden kits to grow all types of vegetables. Veggie U was founded back in 2003 by the Farmer Jones family of Milan, Ohio.

Eirons says the Veggie U program teaches students where their food comes from so they are more likely to develop healthier choices in their eating habits.

"They are able to learn about the soil, the plants and the growth and also the nutrition so they can take that home to their families and share that at home also," said Eirons.

For the past 7 years, every elementary school in Cleveland Metropolitan School District has graduated from Veggie U.

Third grade teacher Naimah Gooden has been following Veggie U’s curriculum with her students for the past 2 years.

"A lot of students think they just go to the store and vegetables come out of a can, so they get a hands on experience with the veggie tasting. We also plant vegetables, and at the end we actually eat them,” said Naimah Gooden, a teacher.

The students watch videos about Veggie U, plus they write in their journals about their progress. Students say they are tasting vegetables they never knew about.

"My teacher said 'who wants to try a vegetable called popcorn shoot?' And I said 'I will,' and everybody else tried it so I tried it. At first it looked nasty but when I tried it, it was good,” said Deandre Taylor, a third grade student.

Veggie U is hoping more schools will take part in their program on educating students about veggies.