Food Literacy Project, CitySprouts Collaborate on Area Gardens

Nida Naushad

Harvard’s Food Literacy Project collaborates with local non-profit City Sprouts to garden at the Graham and Park School Sunday afternoon.

Food Literacy Project representatives lent a green thumb and a helping hand yesterday at a local elementary school to CitySprouts, a Cambridge non-profit.

The Harvard University Hospitality and Dining Services’ FLP members spent the afternoon at Graham and Parks Alternative Public School as part of a workday designed to prepare the school’s garden for winter.

The event was hosted by CitySprouts, an organization that provides “sustainable schoolyard gardens and related programs for the Cambridge public schools.”

FLP representatives, all of whom are undergraduates, used their time at Graham and Parks tending to strawberries, lemon balm, mint, and squash, in addition to composting plants that would not survive the winter and covering the garden with hay. Parent volunteers and middle school students were also in attendance.

FLP Director Dara B. Olmsted ’00 said that FLP had never done a workday with CitySprouts, but that it was in line with the project’s commitment to community service.

“It’s also a fun bonding experience for the reps,” Olmsted added.

“I’m pretty excited to be here. It’s a lot of fun to work in the dirt and nice to be in the community,” FLP representative Gary D.J. Gerbrandt ’14 said as he worked in the garden.

Adeline S. Rolnick ’12, a FLP member who is interested in the technological development of agriculture, said she enjoyed the opportunity to both educate peers and volunteer in the community.

E. Louise Forest, the CitySprouts Garden Coordinator for Graham and Parks, noted that the Harvard students were a valuable asset.

“The impact of students from Harvard is huge,” Forest said. “Rarely [do we] have that kind of quality of help.”

Forest also emphasized the importance of educating elementary school students about food.

“A lot of kids have never seen how carrots and garlic grow,” Forest said. “[CitySprouts] helps them understand where food comes from.”

CitySprouts was founded 10 years ago by Jane S. Hirschi, a Cambridge mother, who is now the current Executive Director. Today, CitySprouts has a garden in every public elementary school in Cambridge.

Forest said the Cambridge-based organization is also working with the Cambridge Public School District’s Science Department to integrate learning about CitySprouts into the science curriculum.

One of the garden spaces at Graham and Parks Alternative Public School that was transformed by CitySprouts cost $10,000 to make into a usable space for the entire school, according to Forest. Now the space hosts a number of raised-bed gardens.

“[It is] a peaceful and beautiful space that gives life for the whole school,” Forest said.

FLP plans to participate in another CitySprouts workday this spring.

—Staff writer Derrick Asiedu can be reached at dasiedu@fas.harvard.edu

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