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Cultivating minds with the green Bronx machine

Posted at 6:32 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-22 21:04:38-04

THE BRONX — We know that getting kids to eat their veggies can be a challenge, but an award winning educator at a local Bronx elementary School has made it his mission to cultivate the minds of his students by teaching them how to grow their own produce inside the classroom.

Award-winning educator Stephen Ritz knows just how to spread the importance of getting students at Community School 55 involved in growing their own vegetables and building healthy sustainable communities. He also has the support of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

"Seventy percent of twelve year olds have early signs of heart disease and the culprit lies in the foods we serve them every day. We need to use our education system to teach children one and one is two, but we are gonna teach them that a good diet plus exercise is equals a long lasting life," says Adams.

The Borough President also sites that starting the process of moving away from processed meat in Brooklyn schools has been essential to building a healthier community. He's teamed up with Ritz to encourage other schools to do the same.

"The students love the program. Behaviorally, we’ve reduced out of class signs and schools incidents by over 200%. The students love being here," says Ritz.

Known as the big cheese, Ritz invited us in for a tour of his national health wellness, and learning center, which is home of the Green bronx machine.

He wanted to create a learning classroom, interactive lab, farm, and kitchen for all kinds of activities. He also installed a grow tent that allows kids to grow edible veggies and other greens like this marigold. The plant blooms from late spring until fall, and protects veggies from pests, a great alternative to chemical pesticides.

It’s just one more added bonus to get kids involved and excited about eating green and encouraging their families to do the same.