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Earth Action Heroes: Powerful plantings

With juicy red tomatoes, crisp cauliflower, bright green brussels sprouts, eggplant, kale, cucumbers and more, the new student garden at Success Academy is producing more than just fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s providing students with an opportunity for academic growth.  

“Most of these students haven’t had a lot of involvement in producing what they eat,” Success Academy Executive Director Magdy Rabeaa said. “For many, this is their first experience planting and taking care of a garden and learning about the science behind it. It’s wonderful to see how excited they are to pick and eat what grows.”  

Public Health partnered with Success Academy, a K-6 STEM Public Charter School in Bloomington, earlier this year to write a sustainability plan and apply for the grant that funded startup costs for the school garden. The plan included an array of ways to plant garden-oriented science, technology, engineering, and math activities into the school’s curriculum for all grade levels. 

Remembering the bare hay bales that made up the garden’s landscape in its beginning phases, students said they were amazed at how lush and green it became. 

The benefits of the garden don’t stop in the classroom, either. All the produce the students and staff grow will be used in the cafeteria to create a salad bar full of garden-fresh ingredients. The cafeteria addition is welcomed by most students as they agree taste testing has been the most fun part of the process.