US (MN): School-grown produce teaches students to eat their veggies

When students at Holdingford Public Schools grab their lunch trays and dig in, they might be eating food they helped grow and harvest.

And some of those foods are a new experience for their taste buds.

"Our kids eat eggplant, they eat squash. They eat a lot of cabbage," said the district's food service director, Melissa Anderson.

Holdingford started a garden in 2012 and later added a greenhouse. It's one of only a few schools in the state that grows its own produce for its lunches — and Anderson said while the locally grown food isn't a big money saver, it has increased healthy food choices for students and increased student interest in where the food they eat comes from.

Few have taken the idea as far as Wadena-Deer Creek Public Schools.

The central Minnesota school has a high hoop greenhouse that extends the growing season by at least a month in spring and fall, and a deep winter greenhouse that grows lettuce, kale, radishes and other cool-weather crops all winter.

Caroline Venis runs the greenhouses. This time of year, she's pulling up tomato plants, still covered in red and green fruit, to make room for lettuce.

In the summer, she supervises a program for students who grow vegetables outside in garden plots. A large part of her job is sparking students' interest in growing and eating fresh food.

Read more at MPR News (Dan Gunderson)

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